In wake of Rintala verdict, Safe Passage renews outreach to gay community

  • Cara Rintala is seen with one of her lawyers, Luke Ryan, in Hampshire Superior Court on Oct. 7, the day she was convicted of first-degree murder in the strangulation death of her wife. Safe Passage announced Thursday a renewed effort to prioritize outreach and service to the LGBTQ community. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 10/13/2016 8:04:45 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The murder conviction of Cara Rintala prompted a domestic abuse prevention group to announce Wednesday its renewed effort to prioritize outreach and service to the LGBTQ community.

Rintala, formerly of Granby, was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole for the 2010 strangulation death of her wife, Annamarie Cochrane Rintala.

Marianne Winters, the executive director for Safe Passage, at 43 Center St., said people, more often than not, tend to associate domestic abuse with heterosexual couples in which the man is typically the aggressor. That stereotype is perpetuated in popular culture and by the media, she said.

“There’s a misconception that (abuse) doesn’t happen in all forms of relationships,” Winters added.

Safe Passage, which provides shelter and other services to victims of domestic violence, is moving forward to emphasize the need for abuse-prevention education in Hampshire and Franklin counties, particularly regarding same-sex couples.

After two earlier mistrials, Rintala was convicted Oct. 7 of first-degree murder. Throughout the trial, there was testimony describing the tumultuous relationship between Rintala and her wife. And the testimony suggested that nobody seemed to take notice of the mentally and physically abusive behavior by both women.

In a news release Wednesday, Safe Passage officials cited data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that indicates an “equal or higher” lifetime rate of intimate partner violence within LGBTQ relationships compared to those that are heterosexual. The findings were presented in the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

Winters said groups of people who are typically marginalized — including sexual minorities — are often the ones who are most at risk.

“I think some of the factors that can play into it are the invisibility and isolation … the more marginalized someone is by virtue of their characteristics, the more vulnerable they could be to the tactics of abuse,” she said.

Winters also said those who experience abuse in a same-sex relationship may feel a greater sense of isolation due to the general lack of visibility of domestic abuse in LGBTQ relationships.

She continued, “My hope is that the community, with all of its strengths ... could find ways to educate ourselves a little more deeply … in the name of prevention,” Winters said.

Michael Majchrowicz can be reached at


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