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KSDK - Charges are expected soon against a man accused of murdering an East St. Louis mother.

On Monday, Montrell Cooper was official named a suspect in the stabbing death of his ex-girlfriend, 25 year-old Michelle Rowling. The mother of two was found dead in her apartment on Saturday.

Authorities say there was a history of Cooper abusing Rowling, including another stabbing in 2012 and an alleged assault in August 2013. But Rowling refused to testify against Cooper in either case.

The questions on many minds include, "Why didn't Rowling leave and why would she continue to help Cooper?" A domestic abuse expert says getting out of an abusive relationship isn't as easy as it sounds.

"The woman wants the abuse to end, but it's the abuser who decides when the relationship is over," said Mary Burns, Executive Director of Woman's Place. "Abuse cases involving intimate partners are extremely complicated. He may have threatened her with retribution or perhaps she believes he will change his ways."

Burns says "tough love" and questioning why the victim stays can actually do more harm than good.

"It can alienate the victim and actually drive her back to her abuser."

Woman's Place in Affton and St. Charles offers free counseling and crisis intervention to women in abusive relationships. Burns calls Women's Place a first step for a woman who wants to safely escape the abuse.

Woman's Place can be reached at 314-645-4848 or 636-373-7911. Callers can remain anonymous.

There is more information on Woman's Place available here: www.womansplacestl.org.

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