Abusers Appear to be Getting More Violent in Marathon Co.

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

Domestic abusers appear to be getting more violent. Many victims across the state are reporting more severe violence, stalking and death threats.

Not only are the victims reporting more severe violence, but they're seeking out more assistance and staying at shelters longer.

The Department of Children and Families says the number of victims staying in shelters is constant, but those victims are staying 12 percent longer.

The Women's Community, a shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Wausau, is dealing with the same.

"We've seen that trend for awhile," said Jane Graham Jennings, the shelter's executive director. "In 2011 we had actually less women and children in shelter, but those that were in were staying much longer and it's just simply because they have no place to go," she said.

The average client stays 26 nights.

Graham Jennings says often the period when someone leaves an abusive relationship is the most dangerous time, when violence can escalate. Advocates want to be sure their clients are safe, that's why they can stay longer if they need to.

Many victims also have little money and haven't been able to work, making finding a new, safe place to live difficult.

Another trend being reported around the state is that victims are reporting more severe violence from their partners.

"We're seeing extremely brutal attacks that are historically not what we've seen: stabbings, cuts, beating people severely," Graham Jennings said.

Over the last five years, they've also seen more strangulation at the Wausau shelter.

One good piece of news is that local law enforcement are getting special training to better identify behaviors of domestic violence.

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