Domestic violence lethality increases in Kentuckiana

Domestic violence lethality increases in Kentuckiana

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - When there’s a call related to domestic violence, the victim is screened for lethality. It measures how dangerous the circumstances are for them and if immediate services are required.

“I think Kentucky is actually one of the top states now for victims of domestic violence, and definitely deaths by domestic violence,” said Elizabeth Wessels-Martin, president of the Center for Women & Families, a domestic abuse treatment center based out of Louisville.

Wessels-Martin said the local lethality rate has significantly increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Now, you’re in a home that’s not safe but you don’t have people checking on you,” Wessels-Martin said. “You’re no longer interacting face to face with friends, family, and co-workers. So there’s no outside eyes to bring attention to something going on. So it’s really completely up to the victims to be able to reach out for help. And when you’re quarantined in the same home as the perpetrator, that’s even more dangerous.”

The center has a 24/7 emergency call center – 1-844-237-2331. From March to June, calls to the center dropped by about 30%. Wessels-Martin said it’s alarming because it means victims cannot reach out for help.

“We know that we have a higher than the national average rate, and we know what our average number of calls are, have been over the last many years,” Wessels-Martin said. “So when we start to see the drop, it tells us people can’t reach us.”

The center has shelters in nine local counties, including Southern Indiana. The Louisville center has 79 beds for women and children. Along with their emergency hotline, they also offer guidance with transitional housing, food stamps, and legal services.

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