MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The headlines have been heartbreaking: Minnesota children as targets or witnesses of domestic violence.

On Thanksgiving, a 2-year-old girl may have seen her father shoot and kill her mother, Raven Gant, in north Minneapolis.

Three days later, another dad murdered his ex-wife, Kjersten Schladetzky, and their 8- and 11-year-old sons in south Minneapolis.

Meggie Royer knows about domestic violence firsthand.

“It’s kind of frustrating to see from this perspective that there was probably a lot of power in the relationship and a lot of control and a lot of coercion, and it wasn’t something that just came out of the blue,” Royer said.

She was a happy college student with many friends, but she had a partner that turned abusive.

“There were several different periods of what I would now consider to be rape, but there was one incident that I would consider to be the most severe,” she said.

Royer reported it to her school — an incident that’s far from rare. One in three women experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

“These issues are happening every single day, they’re just not homicides. A lot of people are experiencing a lot of abuse,” she said.

And that abuse often happens in front of kids. The group Violence Free Minnesota says 22% of domestic homicides are witnessed by children.

“They are saying, essentially, I am in control of you. I am in control of your life and your death,” said Becky Smith of Violence Free Minnesota. “It’s the ultimate act. It’s the final act of power control,” Royer said.

And it’s happened at least 19 times this year in Minnesota. Advocates say to reach out to anyone who may need help.

“You can hopefully provide them with the support that they need,” Smith said.

Advocates say the holidays are a perfect time to look for any signs someone you know is being abused.

Call the 24-hour hotline 1-866-223-1111 if you need help or if you are trying to find help for someone. And if a friend or relative even quickly or jokingly mentions they may be fearful, take them seriously.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield