LYNN (CBS) - The violence in apartment two at 10 Fortesque Terrace was just something everyone accepted, like the unit's downstairs neighbor.
"Last time he split her head wide open and she didn't even call the cops," explained the man who lives below apartment two. He wanted to be identified only by his first name, Brian. "I heard them arguing for about three hours [Sunday] night, but that's been going on for like two years so I don't think nothing of it."
But Sunday night, someone did call Lynn Police to let them know things were especially bad at the apartment where 44-year-old James Woodbury lived with 55-year-old Donna Cucinotta.
When they arrived, police say they could see Cucinotta's body lying lifeless on the floor. They say they broke down the door to find Woodbury in bed, drinking a beer and watching football on television. According to the police report, Woodbury initially pretended to be asleep when investigators tried to ask him what happened to his girlfriend. He later told them he had arrived at the apartment to find her dead.
Police records show Woodbury had been arrested for abusing Cucinotta at least seven times since 2012.
"You kind of rush to say, why didn't the victim leave, or why didn't they do something? And the reality is, we already ask a lot of victims when we're trying to keep them safe," says Anthony DiPietro, Executive Director of the Salem-based advocacy group Healing Abuse, Working for Change. He says women have the burden of filing the restraining order, going to court to renew it, and calling the police when their abuser violates it.
"And they get exhausted by that whole process," he says. "And when we ask them to participate by testifying or things like that, we're often putting them in a more dangerous situation."
He says women in trouble need to know there's support.
"The most important thing is to let them know that you're there to listen no matter what, without judgement, because there's still a lot of shame that comes with being in an abusive relationship," DiPietro explained.
Wodbury is being held without bail.
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