Statistics show that the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is the end, when the abuser is confronted with the possibility that he or she no longer can control the abused.

Two domestic violence incidents separated by days, in central Maine, appear to bear that out. In all, four people were killed, and another wounded, by men jealous and angry at the break down of a relationship.

Of course, to the victims and their loved ones, it doesn’t matter if the homicides fit some sort of pattern. Each murder – in fact, each incident of domestic violence – is its own tragedy, with its own set of circumstances. These events should not be simply reduced to statistics or cautionary tales, nor should the victims or circumstances be blamed for the behaviors of the perpetrators.

But the dangers of domestic violence are very real, and people who recognize in their own relationships some of the behaviors that serve as warning signs should know that there are people who understand what they are going through, and are ready to help.

Lori Hayden, friends say, was trying to move out of her house when her husband shot her, their son and two other men on July 5 in Madison – only one of the men survived. Hayden’s husband believed, erroneously, that she was having an affair with one of the other victims – those kinds of accusations another warning sign of domestic violence.

A few days later, in Jay, police say Wendy Douglass was killed while she slept by her ex-boyfriend. They were recently separated, but still living together. According to an affidavit, the ex-boyfriend left a note: “Wendy I love you you ruin my love I already know you cheat on me you lie lie lie a lot.”

Investigations into the murders continue. But there is no question that abusive relationships are about power and control, and when that power and control is threatened, as when a partner is trying to leave, abusive behavior can escalate.

That signals something fundamentally wrong with the abuser, in which normal human feelings of jealousy, insecurity and anger become violent, self-absorbed rage. These patterns of behaviors must be identified and interrupted before something goes horribly wrong. Unfortunately, that burden often falls on the victims or their loved ones.

The stigma around abusive relationships – the hesistancy to get involved and the tendency to minimize abusive actions – is a barrier, as is the fear and self-loathing that abusers use to control the abused.

But those people should know that help is out there, and they can find it by calling the state’s toll-free hotline, 1-866-834-4357, where counselors can point people toward the right resources.

They should know that many others are in the same position and understand just how complicated it all is. They should know there is no shame in reaching out for help. They should know that there are people waiting to help who know what to do, whatever their situation.

They should know that they are not alone.