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Pitt Student's Murder Shines Light On Domestic Abuse, How To Prevent Tragedies

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Alina Sheykhet asked a judge last month for a Protection from Abuse Order against her ex-boyfriend.

Matthew Darby allegedly broke into her apartment. She told the judge she was sleeping when Darby climbed up the gutter and broke into her second-floor window.

Sheykhet went on to say, in part: "It was nothing malicious, nothing. He didn't want to harm me. He just wanted to speak to me. I did leave him a few weeks prior to that and I guess he did not like the fact that I asked him to leave me alone."

She told the judge she just wanted to be left alone and said she didn't think Darby would hurt her.

"She may not have believed at that point in time that there could have been any harm or threat to that," said Stacy de las Alas.

De las Alas, with Crisis Center North, said a lot of people miss the warning signs in abusive relationships.

"Oftentimes, warning signs can be excessive jealousy, controlling things, but in young or early onsets of relationships, that might feel flattering at first," said de las Alas.

At one point, Judge Spurgeon asked Sheykhet why she was afraid of Darby. She said, "He's very controlling."

De las alas urges women to call a confidential crisis hotline if they feel threatened.

"Getting their perspective on what that situation looks like, the degree of control, the degree of fear that's involved in the relationship," said de las Alas.

De las Alas said PFAs are always an option, but human behavior isn't predictable.

"There's still an ability that someone could go outside of that and decide to break a law and fatally harm someone," said de las Alas. "There are still many cases where the legal and judicial process and PFA definitely works."

Judge Spurgeon told Sheykhet he felt more concerned for her safety than he felt she did for herself, so he granted her the PFA.

Here are a list of crisis center hotlines if you feel you or someone you need is experiencing domestic violence:

Nicole Molinaro Chief Program Officer at the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh tells the "KDKA Morning News" Sheykhet did the right thing by getting the PFA.

"What really important is to not potentially blame the victim because she's not the one that did anything wrong. She actually did everything right. She got the protection from abuse order and tried to keep herself safe," said Molinaro.

Molinaro adds that 73 percent of murders in an abusive relationship happen when the partner leaves or tries to leave the relationship.

"It's also important to remember you can leave a violent relationship safely. Sometimes it takes…many more steps than it does at other times depending on the situation within the relationship," said Molinaro.

Molinaro says if someone is currently in an abusive relationship to, "reach out for help if [they've] done so before unsuccessfully to do so again as soon as she is able and in a safe position to call a domestic violence program…and ask for the emotional support and ask especially for the safety planning to be able to successfully leave a violent relationship."

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