NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Robbery, aggravated assaults, and homicides are all violent offenses that Tennessee is seeing far too often. New data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation spotlights the problem in Tennessee.

“It makes me sad, but really it’s not surprising,” said victim advocate, Verna Wyatt.

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According to the FBI’s data, Tennessee is 3rd in the country regarding violent crime.  

“We are also in the top 10 states where men kill women and at one point, we were number four, so if you have people that are learning violence in their home where they are supposed to be safe and that’s where they learn and that’s how problems are solved is with violence. Why are we surprised when they take it out to the street with people they don’t know,” Wyatt questioned. 

For more than two decades Wyatt has worked as a voice for victims.

“I know that crime is going up and part of the reason I think the crime is going up is unfortunately our country is embracing the social justice movement and the no-bail movement,” she explained.

As co-founder of Tennessee Voices for Victims, it’s an issue Wyatt is well versed in.

“There’s 25 years of research that tells us exactly what the problem is, why our crime is rising, because we are raising violent men and women. We are raising them,” she stated. 

It’s a conversation Wyatt has weekly with incarcerated women and men. “The common denominator is trauma, usually childhood trauma.”

She says it often becomes a generational cycle. “They begin as victims and instead of rising above it they become victimizers and until we heal that broken part of them, they are going to continue doing that, because that’s their normal.” 

Tennessee’s violent crime rate of 673 incidents per 100,000 people is the highest of any state in the South, according to the data. Time after time, Wyatt says the offenders are let back on the streets to repeat the cycle. “Why wouldn’t crime be going up? We are letting the people that are committing the crime back out to do it again before they’ve had any healing or intervention.”

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If you have been a victim of crime, Tennessee Voices for Victims can help, from connecting you to direct service providers, to legislative advocacy. For more information on their services, click here.