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'I wish she would have listened sooner': Family says suspect in Peoria kidnapping case abused victim

Court records show Eric Maes, the man at the center of the Peoria kidnapping and homicide, had domestic violence and substance abuse issues in his past.

PEORIA, Ariz. — Court records show Eric Maes, the man at the center of the Peoria kidnapping and homicide, had domestic violence and substance abuse issues in his past.

The victim’s family said Brittany Martie, who had a child with Maes, was physically hurt by him before Tuesday, when she died after she was thrown from her van while trying to protect her child from Maes.

Family encouraged her to leave

Investigators stated in court records Maes admitted to intentionally hitting Brittany Martie with her van as he took off with their 10-month-old son, Abel.

The family said while Brittany’s legal name was Brittany Martie, she went by her maiden name Brittany Walker.

RELATED: 'Their mom literally fought for them to the death': Family remembers mom killed in Peoria kidnapping

Martie's sister, Trish Faras, said she had conversations with Martie about how Maes treated her in their relationship.

“She just wanted him to love her so bad,” Faras said. “And she wanted him to change.”

Faras said she remembers the conversations well as she pleaded with Martie to leave Maes, as Maes would physically abuse her.

“He’s not going to change, you’ve given him so many chances,” Faras said. “And she would say, ‘I know, I know, but Trish, I love him. I want him.’”

Experts say it’s not easy for domestic violence victims to leave

Kim Hubbard, the manager of A New Leaf’s Autumn House, said this situation is unfortunately not unique.

“Breaks our hearts as a community every time we hear it,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard said it’s not easy for victims to leave their abuser.

“Especially when the abuser is coming, you know, back and forth of manipulating and saying that they’re sorry and things will change,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard said when victims do leave, it’s the most dangerous time in that relationship because abusers see it as losing control.

“They will, a lot of times, do whatever they can to make that situation stop,” Hubbard said.

She recommends having family members help a victim make a plan to safely get out by saving money, plan how to store important documents outside of the shared home and have their own checking account and cell phone.

Resources to help those in domestic violence situations

If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence here are some resources to help:

FROM 2018: