‘Might Be My Last Moment’: Survivors share stories as local organizations try to curb domestic violence homicides

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The number of murders in Las Vegas is on the rise, and the newest data from Metro shows that domestic violence is the No. 1 cause so far this year.

Some experts say there is currently a rise in domestic violence because more people are stuck at home during the pandemic. But this issue has been growing over time.

Survivors say more early intervention is needed, and a local organization says that is what it plans to do.

“I thought it was going to be a good relationship,” domestic violence survivor Courtney Dillon shared with 8 News Now.

Courtney Dillon shares a photo of domestic violence-related injuries

What was supposed to be a love story for her in 2017 took a terrifying turn.

“Three months into it, I was physically hit,” Dillon said.

And it only got worse from there. Her partner at the time abused her for more than two years.

“I got a screwdriver thrown at my head, and it started to bleed,” Dillon recounted. “He stepped on my hands very hard, stabbed me with a fork on my back and also on my hand because I was trying to block it.”

Courtney Dillon shares a photo of domestic violence-related injuries

She says there were times she did not think she would make it.

“You’re telling yourself you’re going to die,” Dillon said. “You’re not going to live anymore.”

The latest numbers from Metro show there have been 68 homicides in Las Vegas from the beginning of 2021 through July 9. In comparison, there were 40 homicides up through that same time last year. That is a 70% increase. The statistics also show the top factor leading to murders in Las Vegas this year is domestic violence, with 12 homicides.

“This is real. This might be my last moment,” said domestic violence survivor Rachel Hague.

When Hauge was in high school, her then-boyfriend’s verbal abuse quickly turned physical — and she feared for her life.

Rachel Hague

“He ended up going backward on the freeway, head on in traffic and was like, ‘This is all your fault. We’re both going to die right now,'” Hague recalled.

Hauge says what could have helped is if there were more upfront resources, including in schools, about domestic violence.

“Maybe in the moment, when they are experiencing those things, things will click a little bit quicker,” she said.

That kind of proactive action is exactly what The Shade Tree of Las Vegas is trying to take. The domestic violence shelter provides housing and case management for survivors.

The Shade Tree Shelter

Right now, they are working on direct outreach at local casinos, businesses and organizations, so they can get ahead of the issue.

“Whether we put a booth up, or you ask us to come speak, because awareness for us is very important, and it’s key to bringing the issue to light,” said Linda Perez, CEO of The Shade Tree.

The shelter hopes to start this outreach by October. Survivors say that is a great idea.

“If someone would have come to talk to us all as a group, saying, ‘You can come here; you can have someone to talk to,’ it would have been such a relief,” Dillon said.

Courtney Dillon

She is in a much better place now, but her healing continues.

“I feel like I’m getting myself back, but I’m not totally there yet,” Dillon said.

Metro also tells 8 News Now they are working to partner with local organizations to help people, before domestic incidents escalate into homicides.

There are resources for those in domestic violence situations. Those in need can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. The Shade Three also had a 24/7 crisis line, which can be reached at 1-855-385-0072.

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