A Carson City father says educating women and young girls to the signs of domestic violence is the key to preventing it.
Greg Kravosec says his daughter, Kirsten Kravosec, had been in abusive relationships for nearly 10 years before her death.
On July 5, 2015, Cory Brewer was arrested on suspicion of open murder after police found the body of Kirsten, a Carson City native.
Police say paramedics were called to the 4000 block of Gardella Avenue in Reno earlier that day where they found Kirsten dead from possible suspicious circumstances.
The case still is an active investigation and prosecutors still are waiting on autopsy protocol to determine official cause of death.
In the criminal complaint filed for the case, the death of Kirsten is presumed to be by means of asphyxiation and blunt force trauma to her head and body.
Kirsten’s family believes she was trying to leave her relationship.
“We knew it was a bad situation and we were hoping that it wouldn’t be what it is but unfortunately it’s not,” Greg said.
Kirsten’s family described the 30-year-old mother of two as a great person. Her father said she was always a great kid growing up, a bright young woman who was an honor student in high school and participated in Pop Warner cheerleading, drill team and band at Carson High School.
According to Greg, Kirsten’s first abusive experience occurred when she became pregnant with her first child.
Greg said Kirsten, as an only child, was close to her parents but, Greg felt as the abuse started Kirsten became more distant mentally and physically with her family.
“(She) just kept getting further and further from Carson City. The first move was down the street, then Mound House to Dayton to Silver Springs,” Greg said.
He said that’s when the family started noticing the physiological abuse.
Kirsten, in a temporary protection order she filed in 2010, wrote she was “scared for her life.”
In the order she wrote her partner would hit her, he tried to run her off of the road twice and would threaten her with knives and other weapons.
“He is uncontrollably violent and the kids have been hit by swinging doors or flying objects when he’s having one of his rampages,” Kirsten wrote in the TPO. “I fear greatly for mine and my kid’s safety and I am scared that he might try to hurt me to get to the kids.”
It took five years before Kirsten was able to leave.
Kirsten ended up moving back near her parents for about a year before she started dating Brewer.
Right before Cory and Kirsten started dating in 2011, he was in jail for domestic violence, assault with a deadly weapon, and other drug related charges against his ex-wife, according to the police records.
Greg says after the couple moved in there were signs of domestic abuse.
“I told her ‘you have just walked back into a nightmare situation like before’ and ‘how can you do this?’” Greg said.
Greg said it was like he and his wife were living the domestic situation.
“You are on your guard, not knowing if he is about to go off,” Greg said. “It’s almost like a soldier when they are with all of their guys overseas and they are driving, you have to kind of have a distance because you know that any of them can go at anytime and you can’t have an emotional bond with them until they are home.”
Two weeks before she was murdered, Kirsten went to live with her grandfather in Dayton, according to Greg.
Over Fourth of July weekend, Kirsten brought the two kids to her grandfather’s house in Dayton for the weekend and then returned to Reno.
The next day deputies responded to reports of a dead body at the Reno home.
Kirsten’s parents got custody of the children that night, and Cory was arrested the following Tuesday for open murder and ex-felon in possession of a firearm.
Brewer is set to have a status hearing in early December, and after that a preliminary hearing is going to be set.
Greg hopes by sharing Kirsten’s story it will encourage women and girls to recognize the signs and issues of domestic violence.
“I think that is the only hope that we have in society is teaching a young girl that all of this happens on a daily basis and you need to be on the look out and be aware of it,” Greg said.
It starts simple, a simple “you can’t do anything right.” Next, there’s controlling your every move or showing jealousy when you leave to go visit family or friends.
“A lot of people think that these relationships start off abusive but a lot of times people are a little possessive or controlling or jealous but you thought that was because he loved you,” said Lisa Lee director of Carson City’s Advocates to End Domestic Violence.
“Fast forward a few years and things may have gotten tight money wise and then he shoves or slaps and you have kids together and he is sorry and then maybe it just keeps escalating.”
Lee warned in an abusive relationship, things can escalate quickly.
Jane who shared her story about living in an abusive relationship in Friday’s Nevada Appeal, now works as a social worker and focuses on helping victims of domestic violence she encounters.
Jane, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said the main advice she gives is to just leave, because the likelihood is even if a victim stays there’s a great chance of the abuser still reverting to violence.
“I get people who come into my job who are in domestic violence situations and I will tell them, if he has told you he is going to kill you, he is going to kill you,” Jane said.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SCHOOLS
Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls nationally have said they have been in a relationship where a boyfriend has threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
As a teenager, dating is usually a new concept and if students don’t know what warning signs to look for, they may believe dangerous characteristics in their partner are normal.
Education is important to reducing these teenage rate, said Camika Crawford, chief communications officer for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Women between the ages of 18-34 are at the greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence, nationally.
Often times, victims and offenders of domestic violence see other forms of abuse at a young age and create a misguided idea of what a normal relationship is supposed to look like. Jane said she witnessed her mother being abused when she was a child, and because of that she learned a misconstrued image of what a relationship should look like.
“I saw my birth mom be abused her whole life and you know I had experienced other abusive behaviors as a child at the hands of other people it was easy for me to pick people who were abusive because that is your norm,” Jane, a survivor of domestic violence said. “If I wasn’t given a kind word or I wasn’t emotionally abused somehow or I wasn’t getting played those mind games then it wasn’t normal, I didn’t know what to do with myself.”
Education about domestic violence is key to reducing the numbers. If society can educate victims on how to recognize a domestic relationship before it builds and to teach offenders there are alternative ways to express anger than through physical or emotional violence, domestic numbers may begin to decrease.
“Education early on does play a role in reducing domestic violence incidents,” Crawford said.
However, though the Carson City School District attempts to educate students to stay away from dangerous situations with drugs, unprotected sex and alcohol, dating violence isn’t a topic the schools talk about to students. Superintendent Richard Stokes said the schools have a district wellness policy that focuses on the social/emotional component to their curriculum, however it mostly focuses on treating other people respectfully and kindly.
“The program is aimed to teach children how to manage human contact,” Stokes said. “It mostly is student interaction, but the concepts could be applied with people of any age.”
Currently, the curriculum focuses on students, kindergarten through fifth grade, to focus on developing social and emotional skills. Stokes said they also have the D.A.R.E. program for the seventh graders to help with positive decision-making, however there’s no curriculum that’s aimed at looking at healthy relationships for students.
Sheriff Ken Furlong is currently in the beginning stages of building a taskforce with Carson City community organizations and leaders to help with domestic violence education in the community.
According to The Clothesline Project, a comparison of intimate partner violence rates between teens and adults show teens are at a higher risk of intimate partner abuse.
For victims of domestic violence, they believe helping other victims and helping educate them and community on domestic violence, it can help lead to less incidents.
“I think the key in this battle is education early,” Jane said. “Doing the seminars in the schools, teaching our younger population that this is not okay, this is not the norm that there is healthy ways to have a relationship, to help the women get the courage to leave and for them to teach their kids so that they can end the pattern of abuse.”