Julie Matte planned to leave her husband, Edward Aghahowa. But he murdered her before she got the chance and then killed himself. There were no reports of domestic abuse at their home.
The day before, John Spincken plunged to his death after jumping off a 287 overpass with his two young sons. Miraculously, the children services with non-life threatening injuries. He took the children from the home he shared with his wife after an argument. Public records show that John Spincken was found guilty in 2003 of violating a domestic violence order. He served time in jail, police said.
These appear to be two different factual situations on the surface. In one, there was no reported abuse. In the other, there was. So many victims do not report abuse out of shame, out of fear of retribution, and because the cycle of domestic violence includes a honeymoon phase of apologies and promises to never do it again. When money is tight and resources scarce, a victim is often further paralyzed from leaving or reporting the abuse. Either way, both of these situations ended in terrible tragedy.
We may never know what truly happened inside Julie Matte’s marriage that triggered her husband’s murderous rage. Or why John Spincken would go to such extremes by killing himself and attempting to kill his children after arguing with his wife. But what we can do is help the victims through education and outreach. Domestic violence can take many forms besides overt physical assault. Bullying, harassment through incessant texting or name calling, following you from room to room, not letting you leave the abusive situation, stealing your car keys or cell phone, economic isolation, sexual assault, isolation from family and friends. The list goes on. Often the invisible abuse is the most insidious.
If you or someone you know is involved in am abusive relationship encourage them to seek help. There are safe homes they can go to even with their children and services available to them throughout the State with many services offered at no charge.
About 40 people every year lose their lives to domestic violence in the state, according to the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence.
The nonprofit agency last year helped shelter nearly 1,500 victims and more than 1,500 children. Its hotline answered nearly 93,000 calls from people seeking help.
The agency’s 24-hour free hotline for victims and their supporters is 1-800-572-SAFE.