COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Kelly Mabra drove to downtown Columbus on Monday to sit in court in support of her cousin who was killed on April 16.

Mabra wanted to look Douglas Revels in the eye. He’s on trial after being accused of the murder of her cousin, Traci Mabra-Dalton.

“I have to be here to support her at every court date because I feel like she’s with me,” Mabra said outside the courtroom.

The first appearance was a hearing, so Revels wasn’t present. But Mabra intends to keep coming back, even though it’s painful.

“I want justice for her,” Mabra said. “I don’t know how long this is going to carry on, how long this is going to take. But I will always show up for my cousin.”

The complaint in the case alleges that Revels told officers, “He’d had enough of the female half and killed her,” and that “Mr. Revels waived his rights and proceeded to inform detectives he choked the victim, Traci Dalton, causing her death.”

Red flag

Mabra is a domestic violence survivor and speaks as someone who has escaped danger. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 38% of Ohio women and 33% of Ohio men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner rape or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.

“Domestic violence happens every day,” Mabra said. “I just had a close friend of mine who went through something like that recently. It didn’t get to that point, but it was the start of it, and she knew that it was a sign. So she got out of the relationship.”

NBC4: What was the sign?

“Putting your hands on a woman — period,” she said. It’s something you just don’t do. Not even playfully. You know, we’re fragile beings. A man has a lot of strength. You just don’t do that.”

NBC4: What if they say they’re just playing?

“Don’t play with me like that,” Mabra said. “I’m not a toy.” She shook her head. “The word ‘playing’ doesn’t even go with putting your hands on me.”

“Be aware,” Mabra warned.

Hands on neck isn’t play; it’s danger

Strangulation is a direct warning of homicide, according to the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention.

“A woman who has suffered a nonfatal strangulation incident with her intimate partner is 750% more likely to be killed by the same perpetrator … with a gun,” the institute’s website reads.

Strangulation is close to death whether someone said it’s “just playing,” “kink” or they’ve “nearly passed out.”

“It can take only seconds to lose consciousness during a strangulation incident, and the line between fatal and nonfatal strangulation is perilously thin,” the institute said in an article about strangulation. “Our research has now made clear that when a man puts his hands around a woman’s neck, he has just raised his hand and said, ‘I’M A KILLER.'”

Physical signs that someone you know has been strangled include:

  • Tiny red spots, slightly red or florid, on the face (petechiae)
  • Scratch marks from trying to claw off their hands
  • Swollen lips
  • Bleeding in the ear
  • Petechiae on the earlobe
  • Blood in the eyeball
  • Fingernail impressions, swelling, bruising or ligature marks on the neck.
  • Read more signs here.

Get help — even if you’re a private person

Mabra said that her cousin was very private about her relationship. Mabra was shocked at the news of Mabra-Dalton’s death at 56. She left behind four children and several grandchildren.

“Very loving, very caring,” Mabra said. “It hurts because it’s a reality she’s passed. I miss my cousin very much. We all do. I’m still trying to get used to the fact that she’s not here. And one of her good friends — she actually came to court, too, Chantay. And she was just saying how she thought about calling her for something, but she realized she couldn’t call her because she was gone.”

Ohio Legal Help walks domestic violence victims through the steps to get a protection order. You can stop, save or exit at any time, and there’s a safety exit button that allows the person to quickly jump out of the site to a blank page. It’s a confidential way for people in all of Ohio’s 88 counties to connect with shelters, attorneys, and legal aid.

“If I could talk to her again — oh, man,” Mabra said. “Get out.”

Safe links

The following links have safety exits on site so that people afraid of being caught filing for a protection order can get to a blank page fast:

More resources

Domestic Violence, Cyber Crime/Stalking Unit, city attorney’s office.

For emergency shelter, 24-hour crisis hotline, domestic violence counseling, legal advocates, and peer support groups:

CHOICES crisis hotline 24 hours a day at 614-224-4663.