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Reading the warning signs of domestic violence

By WKTV News

Rome, NY (WKTV) - Christopher Werenski, of Rome is slated to appear in court Wednesday for a felony hearing. He's accused of stabbing his estranged wife, Carrie Werenski to death in her East Bloomfield Street apartment on Saturday, July 26th.

Police say it's a worst-case scenario of how domestic violence situations can end.

From January to June of 2014, Rome Police responded to more than a thousand domestic incident calls. In the entire year of 2013, just 458 people turned to the YWCA Mohawk Valley for help. That number fluctuates between 300 and 500 cases from year to year, but still doesn't come close to touching the number of domestic violence incidents police respond to in a given year.

Police work closely with agencies like family court, criminal court, and domestic violence advocates like the YWCA Mohawk Valley. Rome Police, like many other local departments has its own domestic violence advocate to work with officers and victims.

Lieutenant D.J. Corigliano said he sees five or six incidents daily during his shift, and every incident is treated with the seriousness and knowledge of what it could escalate to.

"There are specific laws that mandate an arrest, and those offenses vary, from something like assault to a violation of a court order of protection, however, without the cooperation of the victim, sometimes those cases are difficult to prosecute in the end," Corigliano said."

He says although there was an order in place in Carrie Werenski's case, that order can't entirely protect a victim from his or her potential perpetrator.

"You can't force someone to get help, however there's a lot of assistance in place for victims of domestic violence, right from on-scene with police."

Police were at Werenski's apartment earlier in July for a domestic dispute, but as with the case Saturday night, they can only react to the situation, and sometimes, it's too late.

Advocates say if people recognize the signs of domestic violence, and get help or get out, tragedies can be prevented.

Executive Director of YWCA Mohawk Valley said, "In hindsight, we can all look back and say, 'oh, this is not a good relationship,' I don’t think it's as obvious when you're in the middle of it...It's like being in a tunnel, and you're not looking at the situation like other people are."

Police and domestic violence advocates agree, it's up to the individual to know the signs: Threats, name-calling, stalking, preventing contact with family and friends, withholding money, actual or threatened physical harm, and sexual assault.

"If we can get people to recognize those signs, stop making excuses for bad behaviors and unhealthy relationships, and have people get help...because by the time it gets to that point, it's more dangerous and it's harder to extricate themselves," Brown said.

Domestic violence knows no boundaries. Police say they respond to juvenile domestic violence, cases involving senior citizens, domestic violence between siblings, parents and children, husbands and wives, girlfriends and boyfriends, people who share a child or children and so on.

Corigliano said, " A lot of times they won't come right out and tell you that they need help, although you feel that they're in need of it. The District Attorney's office works closely with us on prosecuting these matters, and the YWCA offers it's safe house to victims.

The YWCA has a 24-hour domestic violence hot line.

In Oneida County, victims, and people who may know someone who is a victim of domestic violence, can call (315) 797-7740.

In Herkimer County, the 24-hour number will lead you to Catholic Charities. The number is (315) 866-4120.

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