The Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women says recent violent deaths, combined with a high-profile murder trial in St. John's, are putting the spotlight on the issue of domestic violence in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Last week, Juliane Hibbs was gunned down by her ex-boyfriend in Conception Bay South.

On Thursday, William Conway was charged with impaired driving in the death of Veronica Doyle. 

David Folker has admitted in Supreme Court that his girlfriend Ann Marie Shirran died after they fought, and that he hid her body in the woods.

Council president Linda Ross thinks these incidents have spurred more women to seek advice and help.

Linda Ross of the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women

Linda Ross is the executive director of the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women. (CBC)

"We know from the front line organizations, women are calling," said Ross. 

"They're calling because they are concerned. Even if they are just asking questions 'Well, what is abuse? Am I being abused, is this a violent relationship, what could it escalate to?' Women are reaching out because they're in the situations they're in."

Ross said unfortunately most victims continue to suffer in silence. She said there are many options for women who are scared, and she encourages them to reach out.

"The largest portion never come forward. They are suffering in silence. Go to the police. There are shelters, there's women's centres across the province."

'Devastating blow' in the fight against domestic violence

Meanwhile, a St. John's-based lawyer believes fewer women will be willing to testify about partner abuse now that the province has axed the Family Violence Intervention Court.

The court was cut in the last provincial budget to save half a million dollars.

Lynn Moore calls it a devastating blow in the fight against domestic violence.

Moore said at family violence court, both victims and offenders were more willing to take part.

"If you can say to someone as a Crown attorney, 'Look, we have this court where he can get the help that he needs — and there's help for you too'  that really changes people's attitudes about a willingness to participate in the criminal justice system," said Moore.

Moore said she cannot understand why the provincial government cut funding for the court.