For folks fighting domestic violence, a murder-suicide in Baltimore County Wednesday is a solemn reminder that they still have work to do.
Advocates say 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will be victims of domestic violence. With new laws on the books and continued calls for a cultural shift, they hope they will be able to reach more and more of them before it's too late.
"When someone goes home at night, they can be confident that they’re going to be safe in their home," House of Ruth Maryland's Janice Miller said.
She said that's the goal for House of Ruth Maryland, a nonprofit that helps victims on intimate partner violence. With the news of Wednesday's murder suicide, it's one more women that they weren't able to help.
"Any time we hear that there is a fatality, we have an incredible sadness because we know that for that victim, she or he was not safe when they went home," Miller said.
Police say Wednesday evening, 35-year-old Harry Rey Jr. shot and killed his wife, 28-year-old Amber Cox, inside their home in Woodstock. Rey then took their three young boys to a Red Lobster at Arundel Mills Shopping Center and left them with strangers. Police say he drove a few miles away and shot and killed himself inside of his truck.
From July 2016 to June 2017, 26 people were killed by current or ex-partners, according to a Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence report. In total, there were 46 domestic violence deaths, including the abusers and bystanders, and 67% involved a gun.
Gov. Larry Hogan signed measures into law Tuesday aimed to prevent gun violence. The 'Red Flag Law' lets family members petition for temporary gun restrictions for people found to be a danger to themselves or others. Another law says convicted domestic abusers aren't allowed to have a gun and they have to surrender all of them to law enforcement.
"When those laws include removing guns from partners, we know that victims will be safer," Miller said.
As a result of the 46 deaths, at least 22 children were left behind. Miller says House of Ruth Maryland helps kids deal with what they saw or heard at home.
"While it’s never going to be okay, the trauma that they’ve witnessed, the loss of a parent, we do know that children do have the capacity to heal from that and not have those long term traumatic effects that domestic violence sometimes has," Miller said.
As far as preventing it from happening all together, Miller said it's on everyone: to detect red flags and be open to talking about it.
"The truth is that intimate partner violence isn’t going to change unless we can really change the dynamics of how people think about relationships. Until it’s clear that a healthy relationship, where women are respected, where men are respected, where boundaries are respected, is the norm," Miller said. "Many of us our in this field of intimate partner violence because we believe that it is possible for people to have healthy safe relationships."
House of Ruth Maryland has lots of resources for anyone involved in a violent relationship: a 24/7 hotline (410-889-7884), shelters for those most in danger, counseling, legal services and abuse intervention programs for court-ordered offenders.