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Pattern of abuse preceded Fort Myers murder

Posted at 6:29 PM, Nov 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-15 18:29:19-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Documents reveal a disturbing pattern of abuse, leading up to the murder of a Fort Myers woman.

Fifty-year-old Freddie Harris' first court appearance was at 8:00 a.m., Wednesday. Harris is accused of killing Chantill Harrison during a domestic dispute early Tuesday morning. Harris is also being charged with two counts of assault on an officer and one count of child abuse. It happened inside a home on Towles Street off Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Fort Myers. Police arrested him after a 30-minute standoff.

4 In Your Corner looked into some of Harris' previous arrests and found he was charged in 2013 with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against Chantill and ordered to have no contact with her. Other previous charges include robbery, assault on an officer, grand theft, burglary and shooting into a building.

Charges for previous abuse against Chantill were, however, dropped. This is not uncommon in abusive relationships according to experts. "She probably had an expectation things were going to get better, she probably thought she was safe, and we see that quite a bit with out clients," said Liana Calderin, Clinical Director at Abuse Counseling and Treatment. 

Calderin works with domestic violence survivors every day, and says the crime is widespread. One in three women and one in four men have experienced domestic violence in their lives. Calderin says abuse incrementally gets worse each time a victim returns to their abuser. "Around 75% of woman usually go back with the abuser," she says. "Sometimes people just don't know. Sometimes they think 'what if I don't have this person in my life? They won't abuse me, but I'll have all these other problems,' and it's not like that."

Community programs like ACT in Fort Myers can provide victims of abuse with shelter, legal help if a retraining order is needed, training, and counseling. Calderin adds education about domestic violence is becoming more widely accepted, and programs like ACT can save lives. "I think having those services definitely have decreased the level of violence we are seeing. Unfortunately, we sometimes still have incidents like these."

If you want more information where to get resources to help in a domestic violence situation, you can visit ACT's website here