Domestic Violence Signs
4 Key Lessons Honoring 4 Lives Lost
in De Pere, WS Murder-Suicide

Dr. King



by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.


When domestic violence brews, beware before it spirals out of control. In reflecting on the recent murder-suicide in De Pere, Wisconsin, I am aware of important lessons that could help prevent domestic violence.

In this tragic story, on February 3, 2012, four lives were taken when Denis Bay shot his wife and two children, and then turned the gun on himself. Some key details of the events surrounding this tragedy offer invaluable lessons to individuals in and around abusive relationships.

1) Believe what you see the first time it is shown to you.

It was revealed that the daughter Andrea informed friends that her “father pointed a gun at her and her mother,” noted reporter Scott Williams in the Green Bay Press Gazette. Assuming this to be true, place yourself in the shoes of mother Michelle.

If someone (especially your partner) points a gun at you, never give that person an opportunity to point it at you again. Far too often, people in abusive relationships fail to give validity to what is so blatantly obvious.

2) A child’s disclosure of violence, or violent gestures, must be shared.

In Williams’ review of the incidents of this case, he points out that the child “confided in friends at school a year or more earlier…” about her father’s pointing the gun at her and her mother.

Tell your children that disclosures of violence (or as in this case, pointing a gun at a person) are never left confidential. Encourage your child to inform an adult at school of friends sharing these disclosures. There are specific school personnel at your child’s school who are responsible to alert the people who can help protect endangered abuse victims.

3) Seek help to remove an abusive controlling partner.

If you want a controlling abusive partner out of your shared home, let this be facilitated by the authorities. They can bring in the proper protective measures so that your partner’s removal from the marital home can be executed safely.

Abuse is fundamentally about control. When you reveal through your actions that your abusive partner is losing that control, violence will escalate so as to regain it. For this reason, you must implement a well thought out, sound safety plan to ensure safe departure from an abusive relationship.

4) Pay attention to specific signs of domestic violence.

Possessiveness is a core symptom of intimate partner abuse, and must be taken seriously. If observed in combination with other domestic abuse characteristics, see the full constellation of symptoms for what they are.

In this particular case, reporter Williams notes that Denise had become “increasingly possessive,” as stated by a close friend of Denise’s wife. Additionally, it was pointed out that Denise sought to limit his wife’s social contact with others.

If you see these two signs of possessiveness and isolation, take a hard and honest look at your relationship. These symptoms along with the tendency to externalize blame, a lack of empathy and the use of battering for power and control—occurring in combination—define intimate partner violence.

Vital lessons can always be learned after the tragedy. The more we know earlier on, the more likely one is to prevent incidents as this horrific murder-suicide. Education is prevention and prevention is the cure for domestic violence.

For more information about abusive relationships, visit and get answers to your own questions and personal concerns. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals nationwide end and heal from domestic abuse. © Jeanne King, Ph.D. — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.