Nearly a year after her death, Gabby Petito becomes the symbol of the fight against domestic violence


Gabby Petito, killed last September by her boyfriend who then committed suicide, has become the face of the fight against domestic violence. His family has announced that they have made a donation, in his name, to an association.

It’s been almost a year since Gabby Petito was killed. The 22-year-old American was traveling with her fiancé Brian Laundrie when she vanished. While the young man returned home alone in Florida on the 1er September, it took several weeks to find the body of the victim, in Wyoming. During the search, Brian Laundrie also disappeared – he refused to cooperate in the investigation – before being discovered dead in a nature reserve in Florida. Personal effects belonging to him, in particular a notebook, made it possible to confirm that he had killed his companion and then committed suicide. Gabby Petito’s family announced on Thursday that they have donated $100,000 to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, in the victim’s name, ABC News reports.

The association offers free resources and support for people suffering from domestic violence. “No family should feel the grief we have experienced since the loss of Gabby,” her mother wrote in a statement. “Survivors who manage to get out of this must be able to get in touch quickly with a lawyer,” she added. “The Hotline’s contact volume has almost doubled compared to last year; on average, we receive nearly 80,000 incoming calls, chats and text messages each month,” Katie Ray-Jones, president of the association, said in a statement. “More than ever, survivors need validation, support and planning for their safety, and a connection to resources such as shelter, legal aid, economic aid and health care. The generous donation from the Gabby Petito Foundation and all donations to our campaign will help ensure our critical work continues 24/7 and we can connect with more people affected by domestic violence.”

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During the investigation, several elements seemed to indicate that Gabby was the victim of domestic violence. New documents released in September showed that Gabby’s mother received a strange message on August 27, 2021 from her daughter. “Can you help Stan, I keep texting but missing his calls,” she wrote. The mother explained that Stan was the first name of the girl’s grandfather, but she never called him that. “The mother began to worry about something wrong with her daughter,” wrote agent Daniel Alix in his report, quoted by the “New York Post”. “That was the last communication with Gabby. Her phone then stopped working and she stopped posting on social media. For his family, it was not normal on his part, ”says the agent again. Gabby and her boyfriend indeed documented their trip through videos and photos, especially on Instagram.

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Police error

In addition, during their stay, the couple called the police after an argument. Filmed by a camera installed on an agent, the young girl in tears explained that she suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorders which affected her attitude. The police said they questioned the two lovers, who each explained how complicated life in a van was for them. “Gabrielle, who was in the passenger seat, was crying uncontrollably,” an officer wrote in his Aug. 13 report. Agents wrote that the couple – while battling mental health issues that allegedly led Gabby Petito to slap Brian Laundrie – were trying smartly and sensitively to resolve their issues. On the day of their quarrel, Brian explained to the police that his girlfriend was in a manic state and slapped him because she thought he was going to leave her in Utah without a car. “I’m not going to sue anything because she’s my fiancée and I love her. It was just a quarrel. Sorry this has become so public,” Brian Laundrie said on the officer’s body camera footage. The latter indeed indicated that he did not want to follow up on this case, because he “loved” his companion, while the agents suggested that he file a complaint against her. Making them promise to separate for a few hours, the agents then left. However, during their meeting with the couple, Gabby had also said that she had been struck by Brian Laundrie. “He grabbed my face with his fingernails instead, I think that’s why I have a little cut here. I can feel it when I touch it, it burns me,” she said. In response, one of the two agents had estimated that Gabby was the victim of her own psychological disorders. “What you two did today was the result of your inability to deal with your fears and anxiety. But you don’t have enough experience in life to navigate through it all yet,” he said.

In January, an independent investigation pointed to police mistakes, saying officers failed to see that Gabby was not “the predominant long-term abuser in this relationship”. “Brian was thoroughly examined, including under his clothing for injuries, photographic evidence was obtained, and he was offered treatment. None of this appears to have been offered to Gabby Petito, even after she too said she was injured in an assault. “Even when Gabby reported an argument that resulted in injury, her statement was entirely ignored as the officers appeared to be operating under confirmation bias which influenced how they interpreted the evidence and their theory of the case” , describes the report.

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