The age of innocence has become the age of untimely death. On Monday, NewsCenter 16 reported on a Fort Wayne toddler reportedly beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend. Over the weekend, news broke about the arrest of a North Carolina man accused of moving the remains of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter. In Michiana. Over the past two years, the names of toddler Serenity Wilson and infant Carter Donovan made Michiana headlines because their mothers' boyfriends killed them.
"They are complete cowards," said Tim Corbett, the St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Commander.
After interviewing several guilty boyfriends throughout his law enforcement career, Corbett said it is common to hear them claim they are being victimized.
"They're stuck at home with the baby while maybe the girlfriend or wife is out working because they can't find a job," Corbett listed.
In some cases, boyfriends kill the girlfriend's children because they resemble their biological fathers, said Corbett.
"Every time they have to feed the child, change the diaper, listen to the baby cry, and take care of that child, it reminds them of the person that fathered that child," he said. "That makes them mad."
Jealousy, as psychotherapist Dr. Erin Leonard states, is rampant in male abusers.
"They're threatened by their partners' investment in anything else – could be a career, could be a child," explained Leonard. "It's all about them and what they want in the moment. They'll stop at nothing to kind of reach that."
What does a male abuser look like?
Corbett said women shouldn't dismiss "accidents" that occur while their boyfriends watch their child or children. Those include the child(ren) falling down the steps and rolling off the couch or table.
"Your number one responsibility is that child. Your love life is secondary to that," stressed Corbett.
Meanwhile, Leonard listed additional traits that are red flags in a boyfriend who potentially might hurt his girlfriend's children:
-Constantly puts you down
-Tries to control your life, prevents you from socializing outside of the home
-Accuses you of doing things that are not wrong
-Imposes guilt for having a life outside of your relationship
-Says negative things to isolate you from friends and family
Should I confront my boyfriend?
"If your woman's intuition, sixth sense, your gut tells you, 'This doesn’t seem right,' get out of it,'" urged Commander Corbett.
Leonard said male abusers or boyfriends who have a propensity to abuse are difficult to confront because they lack empathy and diffuse responsibility.
"That sort of character, even when confronted, will deflect any accountability and will kind of place the blame back on the partner," Leonard said.
She recommends women seek individual counseling to learn tools for situations they may encounter. Couple's counseling is another option.
If you are in an abusive relationship or suspect your partner might abuse you and your family, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233.
You also may call the St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office Special Victim's Unit: (574) 235-7818
County Metro Homicide Commander Tim Corbett said victims also may call his office: (574) 235-5009
In Berrien County, victims of domestic violence can call the 24/7 safe shelter, which accommodates children: (269) 925-9500.