Two nieces of a woman killed in Iqaluit by her common-law spouse say they hope her death will serve as a warning to those living in abusive relationships.

On Friday, Pat Anablak pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the June 2004 death of Sylvia Lyall-Ritchie, who was found strangled in her apartment bedroom.

The court was told that Lyall-Ritchie had been the victim of several severe drunken beatings by Anablak in the years leading up to her death.

Family members said they had tried to convince Lyall-Ritchie to leave her relationship with Anablak, and now they said they're feeling guilty that they didn't do more.

"There was no question in our minds that he would one day kill her," Janet Brewster, a niece of Lyall-Ritchie, told CBC News in an interview Friday.

"We have to live with the guilt of not being able to stop that from happening."

Another niece, Megan Pizzo-Lyall, said it has been difficult to cope with her aunt's violent death at the hands of a common-law spouse.

"If you really love that person, you never want to hurt them," Pizzo-Lyall said. "Go and figure it out."

Brewster told the court on Friday, through her victim impact statement, of one incident several years ago in which police and medical staff at the local hospital sobbed when they saw the severity of Lyall-Ritchie's injuries from one of Anablak's beatings.

Brewster said people living in violent relationships should seek help before it's too late. She also urged friends, family members and even employers to take action and not give up on those they know to be in abusive situations.

"If only one family or one friend of a woman who's in that situation hears what we've gone through and makes that extra effort to help their friend or family member and saves their lives, I think maybe I'll feel a sense of closure then," she said.

Brewster said she wasn't happy with Anablak's guilty plea to manslaughter, adding that it should have been moved up to first-degree murder given the prior incidents revealed in court.