ST. JOSEPH, Mo.
An awareness event on Monday in St. Joseph worked to show victims and advocates they are not alone in addressing domestic violence in their community.
Guest speaker Mark Wynn, a 22-year veteran of the Nashville Police Department, is also a domestic violence survivor.
"I lived with an abuser for 10 years as a child and survived it and got out. I had several near death experiences with my step dad and my mom," Wynn said.
His experience impacted him so much that he travels to different communities to teach about the importance of effectively responding to domestic violence. He's been raising awareness for over 40 years.
"It's happening and if you don't know it, it could be your neighbor, it could be a friend or somebody you sit by in church every Sunday, now we're more aware of it," Wynn said. "There's more services and options for victims to get out."
One of those local services available is the YWCA, which is currently over-capacity with women and children seeking shelter from domestic violence situations.
"The YWCA shelter runs at 102% capacity every day of the year and we are always full and people are needing help. We have children, newborns to age 18 living in our shelter and I consider all of them victims," Carrie Turner, YWCA outreach and training coordinator said.
Although the number of women and children that are seeking help in St. Joseph remains steady, nationwide the homicide rate of women in domestic violence situations has decreased.
"There's a lot of self-blaming in these domestic violence crimes," Wynn said. "I want that population that is reading this to know that it is not your fault and that there are people in this community in St. Joe who are waiting for you to call so don't feel like you're alone because you're not and it's not your fault."
The YWCA has a 24-hour hotline for domestic violence victims and can be reached at either (816) 232-1225 or (800) 653-1477.