Less than three months ago, Latonya Holden took out a domestic violence protective order against her husband, Nathan Holden.
Last week’s shooting in Wendell, which left Latonya Holden hospitalized, her parents dead and her husband jailed on murder charges offered support to research that suggests victims of domestic violence are in the most danger in the first three months to a year after they try to leave an abusive relationship.
The incident is a small glimpse into the complicated cycle of domestic violence, some domestic violence organizations say.
Before the incident, a domestic violence protective order issued in Wake County for Latonya Holden and her three children- ages 8, 9 and 15- claimed Nathan Holden was abusive toward his wife and his oldest child before she made the decision to separate from him and move in with her parents on Lake Glad Road outside Wendell.
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Keri Christensen, the executive director of Harbor, a Johnston County shelter which helps victims of domestic and sexual abuse, said she was not familiar with the case in Wendell, but she said it is not abnormal that abused partners are often targets of fatal crimes when they take action against their abuser, including taking out legal orders against them or attempting to leave the abusive situation.
Latonya Holden filed the order against her husband Nathan Holden in January.
It said Latonya Holden moved out of the house she shared with Nathan Holden to her parents’ home on Lake Glad after Nathan Holden beat their son with a broom and physically abused her.
“(The protective order) is a piece of paper that is written to have strong language about what the system, law enforcement and how others should respond (to domestic violence),” Christensen said. “It’s really telling the abusive person what not to do to keep the victim safe.”
“Unfortunately, I wish we could put a coat of armor around victims. We can’t do that so (protective orders are) as close to it as we can get.”
In addition to offering protection for victims, North Carolina’s domestic violence protective orders give victims room to establish themselves outside of the abusive relationship.
Victims can request temporary ownership of cars and residences in protective orders. Latonya Holden didn’t request ownership over any vehicles or residences.
In the order against Nathan Holden, Latonya Holden said she didn’t want her husband going to her work, her residence, any temporary residence or where her children go to school or attend day care.
She noted that she did not want him to have contact with her and wanted temporary custody of their children. The order also required Nathan Holden to pay temporary child and spousal support.
Even though Latonya Holden made it clear she wanted Nathan Holden to leave her and her children alone, Christensen said in some domestic violence situations, taking action by separating or getting a court order can cause more friction.
“I don’t know the dynamics of (the Holden) case but domestic violence is about power and control and isolation,” she said. When a victim tries to leave, it can often anger the abuser and lead to more drastic actions.
It’s not clear what Nathan Holden’s motivations were, but the protective order against him indicated that Latonya Holden and her children had gone to live with her parents, Sylvester and Angelia Taylor, before she filed the paperwork.