STRONGSVILLE -- She is fighting for her life after being struck repeatedly in the head and body with an ax by her ex-husband, according to police.
Now, the family of Milka Simonoski says it might have all been avoided had police done more following two previous reports of domestic abuse, including one taken just days before police say Aco Simonoski attacked his ex-wife on Aug. 21 at their Strongsville home.
"It's just disgusting that it could have been avoided," daughter Bilyana Simonoski, 22, told the Investigator Tom Meyer.
Strongsville Police declined to comment on the accusations, saying the family is welcome to file a complaint if they feel the department's response was inadequate.
The couple divorced last year, but they decided to give the relationship a second chance in January when Aco Simonoski moved back in with the family, said the daughter.
It became clear by July that the reconciliation wasn't working after Milka Simonoski learned that her husband might be having an affair, Bilyana Simonoski said.
"She confronted him and that night he hit her," Bilyana Simonoski said. "She went to the police station the next day. They told her because there's no visible marks, she didn't have enough proof."
Then, on Aug. 19, Milka Simonoski was returning home when her ex-husband threw beer on her, according to a police report.
Aco Simonoski "half admitted to spilling beer on" her and police said the couple agreed that he would leave for the night.
"If someone throws beer on you and there's a past history of abuse, they could only send him away for the night?" Bilyana Simonoski said.
Days later, Milka Simonoski asked her ex-husband to leave for good. He refused and confronted her when she returned hours later. Bilyana Simonoski says her father grabbed an ax from the garage after she tried to stop him.
"He's like I'm going to kill you...and started to swing towards my mom. So I grabbed the ax but he came down and hit me in the hand," Bilyana Simonoski said.
She said that her father then struck her mother in the head and back with the ax. Somehow, Bilyana Simonoski was able to push him into the garage.
"He was able to overpower me and go back into the house and hit her one more time," she said. "Then I pushed him out again."
By that time, neighbors had responded to the screams. When they got there, Aco Simonoski was walking out of the garage.
"Aco was walking right out of the garage and ... all he said was 'don't go in there,'" said neighbor Nick McPheron. "Calm as a cucumber, he just lit a cigarette up."
The family says Aco Simonoski had refused to leave before the attack because he had nowhere to go.
It's a situation happening across Ohio as more couples stay together despite abuse.
Although Milka somehow survived her attack, the Attorney General's Office says fatalities involving domestic violence have shot up dramatically.
There were 74 people killed in abuse cases in 2008, the state says. That dipped to 22 a year later, only to skyrocket to 105 deaths last year.
A domestic violence expert is skeptical of the numbers, but doesn't doubt abuse is getting more violent.
"Definitely, we're seeing an increase in the severity of violence, much more strangling ... then the use of weapons as well," said Timothy Boehnlein of the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center.
"Tough economic times don't cause domestic violence, but if you're already under pressure ... it adds stress and pressure and that's just going to make it even worse."