Home -- it's supposed to be where you feel safe, secure, and loved. However, all too often when the doors close, that safety net falls and loved ones turn violent.
For one victim News 5 talked to, who wanted to remain nameless, domestic violence became a routine.
"In the beginning, I would try to fight back, and towards the end when it would start getting worse, I would realize that the more I fought back, the worse my injuries would be," she said.
One night, the beating and choking almost killed her. "I was actually left laying for dead," she said. "I was unrecognizable."
But this victim is not alone. The National Coalition against Domestic Violence reports 1.5 million people are victims of domestic violence every year and locally, we're told our numbers are going up.
Kathy Johnson is the director of Abuse Alternatives, an organization where battered women and children can seek help. This year they've seen a 26 percent increase in women coming to their shelter. "The number of hotline calls that we've received last year was 1,328, and I know in years past it's been 800 [or] 900; so those have steadily gone up as well," Johnson told News 5.
Johnson believes the number of call they get at Abuse Alternatives represents just a small fraction of what actually happens out in the community. "We want people to know that it goes on. [It] doesn't matter what your job [or] what your name is, it happens everywhere," Johnson added.
To see firsthand how big the problem is in our region, our News 5 crew tagged along with Sullivan County patrol officer William Ford.
Ford said he's hearing more domestic disturbance calls on his radio than ever before. "Out of every ten calls we get, two of them will be domestic calls," Ford said.
After just an hour or so on our patrol, we were on our way to a call. A fight between a couple escalated and turned violent. "She started throwing things. [It was] nothing really heavy to hurt at first, and I was holding the baby, and she shoved me," said the victim at the scene.
The suspect left the scene in handcuffs and was charged with domestic violence.
"She will be brought to Blountville. She'll be booked in on those charges. She'll have to stay in jail for 12 hours before she's eligible to be released on bond," Ford explained.
Ford said the hardest part about dealing with these situations is letting victims know they have a way out. "It seems like it's a cycle. If you have mom and dad that fight all the time or brother or sister, you're going to have one or two more in the family, and I believe that's because they're raised up around it, and it's just a way of life," said Ford.
It's a way of life that can be stopped, and whether it's seeking help or simply walking away, getting out is the only choice if you ask those lucky to enough to survive, hoping their story, will help others avoid that same situation.
"Get out while you can before you end up close to death," said the victim we talked to.
Abuse Alternatives in Bristol provides an emergency shelter, support groups, court advocacy, and intervention services for those living in domestic violence situations. Their hotline is (423) 764-ABUSE.
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