AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The man charged in a weekend murder is expected to be in court later this week.

Friends have told First News the victim knew her killer and had been in an abusive relationship with him.
On Monday, First News talked with experts about where victims can turn for help.

As murder suspect Steve Green sits in jail awaiting his first appearance in court, friends of victim Ashley Lockhart can’t say they’re surprised at what happened between them.

“It’s shocking I guess that he took it that far, yes, but at the same time, no,” said Nicole Vanhorn, Lockhart’s friend.

Police say Green shot Lockhart while she was at a friend’s apartment in Austintown late Friday night.

VanHorn says, even though the couple was estranged, Green would mentally abuse the victim.

“Like, he was very manipulative and quick to say, ‘Well, our daughter will hate you for this,’ or this or that,” she said.

Experts say it’s often very difficult to victims to break free of their abusers.

“It could be out of fear. It could be financial reasons. Also just the fear of starting over,” said Jacqueline Hughley of the Sojourner House Shelter.

Jacqueline Hughley and Audrey Walker are with the Sojourner House Battered Women’s Shelter. They say victims like Lockhart aren’t alone.

“Just letting people know they don’t have to suffer. That there’s a place that they can go. There’s a safe place that they can come to where they can come with their children and be safe,” Walker said.

According to the Ohio Department of Domestic Violence, on average a victim will try to leave an abusive relationship at least half a dozen times before finally cutting ties with their abuser for good. Often, that victim will be trying to prove everyone wrong who’s been trying to get them to get away, experts say.

“Whenever they leave our services, they’re always welcome back because we expect a lot of them to come back because a lot of them don’t finish the program,” Walker said.

Counselors say they continue to offer help and information to keep victims safe and avoid tragedies like Friday night’s.

Counselors also say help is available for domestic abuse victims 24 hours a day. For more information or help, call the Sojourner House at 330-747-4040.