EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- It's one of the most common crimes across the country and here in the Chippewa Valley domestic violence will affect 1 in 4 women at some point in their lives.
Bolton Refuge House is just one of the resources available to victims of domestic violence in the Chippewa Valley.
In just the last year Bolton Refuge house and the Family Support Center in Chippewa Falls have helped nearly 9,000 people.
“The truth behind domestic violence is the victims know that there is a potential that they could ultimately get killed by the hands of their abuser,” Pat Stein, Executive Director of Bolton Refuge House said.
What starts out as a loving relationship can turn violent, even deadly. The recent case of an Eau Claire woman, Lois Biesterveld, shot dead by her husband is the latest example. Sadly, this type of situation isn't uncommon.
In 2012, 52 people in the State of Wisconsin were killed in domestic violence related homicide. That's 15 more than the year before.
“We are seeing more people coming into the shelter and staying for longer periods of time,” Stein explained.
Local agencies like Bolton Refuge House and the Family Support Center in Chippewa Falls are doing their part to help victims of domestic violence before it’s too late.
“I think the most important thing to know is if you know someone who is in a relationship like this is to reach out to them and let them know they are not alone,” Geri Segal, Executive Director of the Family Support Center said.
Segal says friends, family and neighbors all play a crucial role in helping a victim know they are not alone and letting them know there is help out there.
“They might still love the person that is abusing them. Relationships typically don't start out as abusive,” Segal explained.
In both Eau Claire and Chippewa County, counselors are on hand to offer support and help people develop an exit plan to get out of an abusive relationship.
“Ultimately it has to feel safe for them to be able to leave a relationship. They are the ones that have to make that call and we are there to help them through it,” Segal said.
It’s developing that safe exit plan that both agencies say might ultimately help save lives.
“Even if they gave us a phone call and said how do we go about doing this what would be my safest way? Maybe then we could alleviate and save some one’s life from ending like the one in Eau Claire,” Stein said.
Wednesday both the Bolton Refuge House and the Family Support Center are holding a press conference at 11 A.M. to talk about a long range plan for ending domestic abuse in our state. We'll have more on that tomorrow on WEAU 13 News.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, Bolton Refuge House and the Family Support center offer 24-hour crisis lines. We have both of those numbers on the right hand side of this screen.