Raising Domestic Violence Awareness

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Statistics from the National Organization for Women show every day four women die in this country as a result of domestic violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

As Volunteer TV's Whitney Daniel explains, folks in Campbell County are trying to raise awareness about the crime while honoring those who've lost their lives in the struggle. October 16th marks the 10th annual Reachs House of Hope, which covers a five-county area: Fentress, Union, Scott, Claiborne and Campbell. Since July 1997, in those areas alone, 26 people have been killed by someone who told them they loved them.

Domestic violence is the most unreported crime in the country, and people living and suffering here in East Tennessee are ready to do something about that.

"All my life, everybody that I worked with thought I was the most happiest person on the earth, and I was. The Lord gave me a beautiful day, and I set out to enjoy it, but they would never know behind closed doors," one victim said.

She's among the thousands of victims of domestic violence in East Tennessee.

"The fear. It's an ongoing thing," one victim said.

In a five-county region, 26 domestic homicides. Monday night, it's an effort to break the silence.

"East Tennessee is impacted by domestic violence in large numbers," Tracie Phillips from REACHS House of Hope said.

Two victims share their stories of survival, hoping to encourage others caught in the struggle to come forward.

"Many times myself, I thought about suicide, but I thought what would happen to my children," one victim said. "I always had a really quiet life. I've always went to church and lived for the Lord, and I always wondered, 'Why me?' 'Why did we have to go through this?'"

That's why shelters like REACHS House of Hope exist -- to provide a lifeline for these victims.

"This quarter alone, we've served 207 victims of domestic violence through our domestic violence shelter," Phillips said.

"We were without a home, they gave us a place to live, food, just everything, wonderful, they were wonderful and they care about you," one victim said.

But the community needs to unite and fight as well through prayer and remembrance. The danger for serious injury or death increases 75 percent when a woman tries to leave an abusive relationship, and fear is the biggest factor forcing most women to stay. Confiding in a friend, telling someone is a tremendous help. That's why friends, family and these shelters are so important.

If you or someone you know needs the help of REACHS, call 888-844-HOPE. Or go to this website.