MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) —Three months into 2023 and Murfreesboro police have already worked five homicides related to domestic violence.
“As I watch those stories unfold I have that gut feeling, that uncontrollable feeling that I can’t shake that I know that it’s domestic violence-related,” said Ericka Downing.
Downing is the executive director of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center in Murfreesboro. As growth continues to explode across Rutherford County, Downing has seen its impact in other ways.
“Typically, Rutherford County grows 5% each year, and our services actually grow six to seven percent,” she said.
According to Downing, over the last nine months, they’ve serviced 2,400 people. On average, they help around 2,500 to 2,800 people a year.
“Eighty percent of our services are for Rutherford County, but we do see a lot from Davidson County, Wilson County, (and) Sumner County,” she said. “We have a lot of clients come from out of state to our emergency safe shelter.”
Murfreesboro police are seeing the increase too.
In 2021, there were four domestic homicides; last year that number dropped to three; this year, there have already been five tragic cases.
Just last week, authorities charged an 80-year-old man with murder after his wife was found dead in their garage.
Days prior, police said a woman was killed by her boyfriend, with both deaths just minutes away from each other.
In February, officials said a woman was shot and killed in the living room of her apartment. Her boyfriend was found in Kentucky and charged with her death
At the beginning of this year, police said a man shot and killed his wife in Alabama before driving to Murfreesboro, where he killed his two children and then himself.
“That is the reality for some of our survivors,” said Downing. “They don’t always make it successfully out.”
While Downing has watched their numbers rise, she hopes the center can continue to be a place for anyone that is ready to get help.
“Our mission is every single day, fighting day in an day out for those that can’t fight for themselves,” she said.
The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center is located at 1423 Kensington Square Court in Murfreesboro.
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Downing said they provide emergency shelter for both men and women, offer counseling, help victims file orders of protection, and also offer on-site forensic exams for those who have experienced sexual assault.
You can learn more about the facility’s services here.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-7233.