Domestic violence numbers on the rise

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There’s been a deadly trend involving abusive relationships around the Las Vegas valley.  Metro said so far this year, nearly a third of the homicides they’ve investigated were connected to domestic violence.

According to the latest numbers by the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence, almost 7,100 cases of domestic violence were reported during the first three months of 2015.  That’s up compared to the previous three months.

Women shelters around the valley are also said to be at capacity with hundreds of victims looking for a way out.

“It was really good in the beginning,” said Monica, a domestic violence victim.

One victim who 8 News NOW calls “Monica” to protect her identity,” said she thought she married her best friend, but her happily ever after was over before it started.

“I moved in with him, and on that same day he strangled me with my son in my arms,” she said.

Eventually, Monica had enough, and after 10 years of physical and mental abuse, she left her husband.

“I looked at myself in the mirror one day and I didn’t even look like myself anymore.  I decided I had to leave,” Monica said.

Monica, who has been staying at the Shade Tree Shelter for about a month, said when she left, she had to leave her three children behind.

“I didn’t like who I was becoming, you know, that’s not who I am.”
   
Monica is one of the hundreds of women and children who have looked to the Shade Tree for a fresh start.

“Our goal is to educate them on healthy and unhealthy relationships,” said Desiree Petersen, victim advocate at the Shade Tree.

The shelter said it has seen an increase in women and children coming through their doors this year.  Last year, the organization said it assisted 793 victims, but this year, 418 people have been helped thus far.

“By the end of the year, we could — we will surpass last year’s numbers,” Petersen said.

The Shade Tree says it has three full-time victim advocates, but due to the increase in women and children who need help, the shelter had to hire a fourth employee to help with the caseload.

There is such a need just because the increase in the amount of victims that are coming to our shelter,” Petersen.

Monica says she hopes to attend culinary school and reunite with her kids. She said she also has hope that her husband will change.

“There is hope for people; there just needs to be the right tools for them,” she said.

When it comes to the rising number of domestic violence cases, advocates say they don’t believe it’s a growing issue; they just believe there are more victims coming forward.

With that said, advocates say they still believe domestic violence is an under-reported crime.

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