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Gabby Petito case draws renewed awareness to domestic violence

Experts hope more victims will ask for help after seeing video of Gabby Petito and other images circulating online and in the news.

SAN DIEGO — The killing of Gabby Petito has sparked a new conversation about domestic violence, and experts say they hope it inspires more people to seek help.

Petito disappeared while on a cross-country camping trip with her fiance, Brian Laundrie. The 22-year-old's body was discovered inside Grand Teton National Park.

Video shared by police in Utah shows Petito crying after she and Laundrie had a fight.

With that video and other images circulating online and in the news, experts believe some may see themselves in similar situations, as victims of domestic violence.

"When we're able to relate and identify those pieces of ourselves in others, it can spark some new insight and new awareness in ourselves," said Kim Eisenberg, the lead therapist of Sharp Mesa Vista's Trauma and PTSD Program.

While it's too soon to say for sure, she expects and hopes with the attention this case has received, more people in domestic violence situations are reaching out for help.

Doing so, she says is OK, even if a victim doesn't feel quite ready.

"Little baby steps, two steps forward, one step back - any kind of constellation for request for assistance and then pausing is OK," Eisenberg said.

As for where to go, experts say family and friends is a good place to start.

There's also the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

In San Diego, you can reach out to organizations like the Family Justice Center, Center for Community Solutions, YWCA, or simply dial 211.

"You can just call 211, say what the situation is and someone will find someone that will help," said Dr. Julie Hayden, a licensed psychologist and clinical director at Rhombus Counseling.

She said there are more resources now compared to years past, and wants to remind victims domestic violence isn't always physical.

Signs to look out for include being put down, threatened, feeling intimidated, or being forced to isolate from family and friends.

In addition, Dr. Hayden said victims should also notice a certain cycle that's common in domestic violence situations.

Where at first there's a sense something bad can happen but nothing has happened yet so the victim is often being very careful not to say something wrong, do something wrong and then all of a sudden there's an explosion.  And then there's the other side of it where everything calms down and that person feels bad and says 'I'm so sorry.'  So that's something to look out for…that cycle that never ends," Hayden said.

WATCH RELATED: Police video 2 weeks before Gabby Petito's disappearance shows signs of trouble


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