Local shelter sheds light on domestic violence in our area, offers help

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- A local shelter working to help victims of domestic abuse is speaking out after officials confirm the man who shot and killed more than 20 people at a Texas church on Sunday, had previously been convicted of domestic violence.

"Just in our neighborhood, just in our area, we had 405 women and children come through our shelter last year. We've had three men come in the shelter since July 1," says Tori Henninger, Executive Director of the Barren River Area Safe Space.

Henninger says BRASS is the leading domestic violence shelter for our region.

The facility is home to a garden full of trees, planted in memory of those who have lost their life from abuse.

"Our shelter has been at or above capacity 90% of the past year," adds Henninger.

This raises the question: Is domestic violence becoming more prevalent, or are more people coming forward and leaving their abusive situations?

"I think that there's a little bit of both," answers Henninger. "I think that in general as a society we have somewhat become more violent but I also think that people are able to flee more because they're more aware of resources."

For those people searching for resources, BRASS encourages them to call the crisis line at 1-800-928-1183 or (270) 843-1183.

Henninger says BRASS can offer services to those who aren't quite ready to leave, and for those seeking immediate shelter.

"Most abusers in domestic violence situations -- they rely on power and control," she says.

Commenting on the recent church shooting in Texas after officials reveal the shooter's domestic violence conviction, Henninger says, "When people have a history of domestic violence, what they're trying to do is maintain that power and control. So often these mass shooters have a history of domestic violence because it's what they do. They're angry and they're controlling and they're abusive and they use that power to control and abuse others."

She goes on to say, "It's been noted that the presence of a gun increases the risk of homicide by 500% in domestic violence cases, but only 19% of domestic violence involves weapons, and that's according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. I would imagine that's probably because they don't include fists as weapons."

"When these mass shooters --when we're noticing that there is a link to all these mass shootings and domestic violence -- the reality is that it just goes to show how dangerous domestic violence is," she says.

For anyone who feels like they are in a domestic violence situation and would like to speak with an advocate, those numbers listed above can link you directly to the BRASS 24 hour crisis line.

BRASS is currently hosting its semi-annual "pop up shop" through the month of November. The shop will stay open until the Friday before Thanksgiving.

The shop allows women access professional clothing, jewelry, shoes, and purses at no cost.

Those interested can call the shelter to set up an appointment.

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