Tiffany Shantee Bush, of Girard, Ga., is in serious condition after a former boyfriend, with whom she had two children, shot her Tuesday morning in the parking lot of her workplace.
Alfonicia Oneal Gilbert, of Augusta, then killed himself.
Aimee Hall, the executive director of SafeHomes of Augusta, said domestic violence usually escalates.
"The more often it occurs, the more violent it gets," Hall said.
Often, she said an abuser will take an "if I can't have you, no one can" position.
Abuse tends to cycle, according to Cheryl Carswell, a counselor at GA Family Crisis Solutions Inc., in Martinez.
After the abuser acts out, he enters a "honeymoon stage" where he apologizes and promises never to do it again. But then anxiety builds again, and the abuse repeats itself, she said.
Domestic violence professionals recommend a victim seek assistance at the first sign of violence, but many victims put off getting help.
In many cases, Carswell said, the abuser will make the victim believe she deserved the violence.
Some, even after seeking outside help, will return to the abusive environment.
"It takes seven times for a victim to leave an abuser before she finally says enough," Hall said.
Hall recalled a woman five years ago who returned to an abusive relationship and ended up dead.
And if you're in a relationship with children, it's even more important to seek outside help.
"If a spouse will abuse their mate, they will abuse their children," Carswell said. "It's almost a given."
She recommended victims have a plan in the event they ever need to leave. Victims should leave a spare car key somewhere out of sight, have an overnight bag and money ready and have an escape plan.
SafeHomes provides housing for victims, assists with legal support and counseling to ensure victims remain safe.