Investigators paint a picture of domestic violence in an affidavit supporting the arrest of a man accused of murdering his wife in Charlestown on June 27.
The body of Kelly J. Robarge, 42, was found in Unity on July 6. Police have charged her estranged husband, James R. Robarge, 43, with reckless second-degree murder. Though there is no information that Kelly Robarge ever sought help for domestic abuse, N.H. State Police Sgt. John Sonia wrote in court documents that her marriage had turned violent before her death.
Even if Kelly Robarge had sought help from a domestic violence advocacy center, client confidentiality laws do not allow advocates to share that information.
Domestic violence and sexual assault prevention advocates in the Monadnock Region warn of the seriousness of domestic violence.
“It’s a horrible thing having (Kelly Robarge’s death) be a reminder,” said Robin Christopherson, executive director of the Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention, a Keene-based advocacy and service group.
Christopherson and other advocates across the state know the dangers to victims leaving domestic violence situations and offer a variety of services to help each victim individually.
Christopherson said national statistics show that when victims get in touch with a domestic violence service right away, at the first signs of abuse, the number of deaths related to violence are reduced significantly.
Domestic violence is about control, said Peggy O’Neil, executive director of Wise, a Lebanon-based nonprofit agency that provides advocacy and crisis intervention services to victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse and stalking.
“Killing your spouse that you’ve been abusing is the ultimate final act of controlling her,” O’Neil said. “If the relationship is going to finally end, murder is a way to have a final act of control.”
In the Robarge case, Sonia wrote in court documents that Kelly Robarge told a friend that James Robarge had recently became verbally abusive, pushed her and put his hands around her throat. Kelly told her friend that James prevented her from leaving her Charlestown home and kicked her car, leaving dents, according to Sonia’s affidavit. Kelly told her friend that James was controlling, verbally and physically abusive, the documents detail.
On the day Kelly Robarge went missing, she filed divorce paperwork in court. She told her friend in the past that her husband had threatened to kill her by putting her in a wood splitter if they separated and she filed for divorce, Sonia wrote.
It is estimated that 166,131, or 33.4 percent, of women in New Hampshire have experienced physical assault by an intimate partner, according to statistics from the N.H. Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
When victims start to experience such violence and want to get away, there are several options to help them, said Jan Richards, a direct service coordinator for the Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention, which is one of 14 service centers in the state that are part of the coalition.
Those options, or safety plans, are crafted based on the victim’s situation, because every case is different, Richards said. Since the victim knows her abuser the best, Richards said the advocates work closely with victims to make a plan.
Some plans call for a safe escape from the abuser, like leaving when the abuser is not around. This can include leaving while out on a routine walk, Richards said. Instead of going the usual route, the victim could walk in a different direction to get away safely.
She said some plans involve family and friends, who can help the victim stash money and documents needed to make a successful escape. If a victim can’t stay with a family member, there is a safe, confidential emergency center in Keene for victims to stay temporarily. There are about 10 additional safe shelters for women and children across the state.
Domestic violence killings in both New Hampshire and Vermont, not far from where Robarge lived, have been alleged. Last year, Natalie Perriello, a Lebanon High School teacher, was shot to death in her Grantham home and her husband, James Perriello, is charged with second-degree murder.
In 2010, Rodrick Lavoie fatally shot his wife, Bettina Lavoie, before killing himself in their Charlestown home. Just last week, Christopher Sharrow of Pittsford, Vt., was charged with killing his girlfriend, 32-year-old Kristen Parker.
Richards said anyone in the region experiencing abuse can call the Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention’s free, confidential 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-888-511-MCVP (6287) to get help, or visit the office located in the basement of the Cheshire County Court House in Keene, Monday-Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The Valley News of Lebanon contributed to this report.