Mayor and advocates issue community call to action to address scourge of domestic violence

May 20, 2022

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was joined by representatives of The Center for Women and Families, La Casita Center and other advocates today in a news conference to call greater attention to the scourge of domestic violence, as well as services available in Louisville to those in need.

“I want to start with three strong messages for people experiencing domestic violence right now,” the Mayor said. “You are not alone. Help is available. There is no judgment or shame.”

He also issued a community call to action: “This is not a ‘family issue.’ It’s not just something for the police. This is a community problem, and addressing it needs to be a community priority.”

Though Louisville is seeing some positive trends resulting from its whole-of-government approach to public safety, he said, it’s also seeing a sharp and tragic increase of domestic violence homicides. Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) statistics show that at this time in 2020, there were two domestic violence homicides in the city; in 2021, there were five; and so far this year, there have been 12.

Such increases are being seen around the country. During the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence has been called “the shadow pandemic.” And one analysis, by the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, shows domestic violence incidents in the U.S. increased by 8.1 percent following the imposition of pandemic lockdowns. “Though the precise reasons for the increase are not entirely clear, we know that the lockdowns and pandemic-related economic impacts added to the factors – unemployment, financial insecurity, substance abuse – typically associated with domestic violence,” the Mayor said.

Noting a new city ordinance that provides a week of paid leave per year to employees who are the victims of domestic violence or other crimes – to seek care, or legal action or other services – the Mayor urged local business and organizations to do the same.

He also cited other ways that Louisville Metro Government agencies and its partners are working to address the increase in numbers, including:

  • LMPD’s Domestic Violence United has added two civilians to its staff; both are former sworn domestic violence investigators. Just this year, LMPD has made 613 domestic violence related arrests. And its Victim Services Unit is dedicated to supporting crime victims and witnesses by helping them navigate the criminal justice system and providing immediate resource needs – emotion, physical, and financial.
  • The city’s Office for Women is bringing in national experts to train prosecutors, law enforcement, victim and community advocates on how to effectively investigate and prosecute stalking, since stalking is a major risk factor for domestic violence.
  • The Domestic Violence Prevention and Coordinating Council is working on best practices in responding to domestic violence, including reviewing domestic violence fatalities to see if changes in interventions are necessary.
  • The city’s Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods (OSHN) is conducting Ambassador trainings to prevent community and gender-based violence and is expanding its Trauma Resilient Communities initiative to place clinicians in six Neighborhood Places for people who seek help, including with domestic violence. The office also will be offering Racial Trauma therapy, and training in Adverse Childhood Experiences, which also pertain to treating those who have witnessed domestic violence.

“And we’ll be working with our Commission on Gender Equity to see if there are additional actions we should be and can be taking,” the Mayor said. He urged victims of domestic violence to remember two numbers:

  • The Center for Women and Families’ 24/7 emergency hotline: 1-844-237-2331 for crisis response, emergency shelter, sexual assault services, and more.
  • The Metro United Way Community Resource Database, at 2-1-1. “If you need housing to get away from your situation, if you need transportation, if you need legal advice, call 2-1-1, and they can help, and put you in touch with those resources,” the Mayor said.

The Mayor was joined at today’s news conference by representatives of several local advocate organizations, justice agencies and LMG staff. Other speakers were: Elizabeth Wessels-Martin, CEO, The Center for Women and Families; Karina Barillas, executive director, La Casita Center; Jaydee Graham, social worker, author and survivor; as well as Domestic Violence Detective Larry Farmer and Nicole Carroll from LMPD’s Victim Services Unit.

“Our community is experiencing an increase in incidents of domestic violence, and it is the responsibility of system-based and community-based organizations, as well as community members to work together to support persons impacted by domestic violence,” said Nicole Carroll, Director, LMPD Victim Services Unit. “The Victim Services Unit provides a compassionate, empathetic response to persons impacted by crime through the provision of support and advocacy services. We work to ensure victims know how to access services and know support is available to them when they are ready.”

"Building a safer, violence-free community starts with each of us, and abuse cannot hide if you know how to look for it. Call The Center for Women and Families’ hotline 24/7 at 1-844-237-2331 for advice on how to support someone you suspect is in an unsafe situation. Your intervention—no matter how small it may seem—could help save a life,” said Elizabeth Wessels-Martin, Chief Empowerment Officer, The Center for Women & Families.

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