Henrico County shelter sees 'mind-blowing' rise in calls from domestic violence survivors

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Posted at 5:02 PM, Jun 04, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Henrico County domestic abuse treatment center is seeing a drastic rise in calls for service from domestic violence survivors.

It comes on the heels of two different shooting deaths, police say, that are tied to domestic issues.

On Tuesday, Henrico County Police released more information on a homicide investigation near Hope Road,saying the initial call to 911 came from someone involved in a domestic dispute. According to police, that same caller made a second phone call while police were on the way, that time about a shooting.

Police say the victim, 31-year-old Marquez Rashard Taylor from Glen Allen, was known to the caller.

No arrests have been made thus far.

That shooting happened just a few days after 33-year-old Chelsea Johnson was shot and killed outside of her place of work in Chesterfield County.

Chesterfield County Police confirmed that the case is considered domestic, arresting the man that she lived with at the time, who now faces a slew of charges, including second-degree murder.

"It will start with emotional, verbal, financial, and then it will turn into physical and then, possibly, sexual assault, as well," said Victoria Barahona, Director of Shelter and Community Operations at Safe Harbor.

Barahona said while it's common for the number of domestic violence cases to rise during the summer months, Safe Harbor has seen an influx in cases over the last few weeks.

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Victoria Barahona, Director of Shelter and Community Operations at Safe Harbor

"I mean in two weeks alone, there were six or seven shelter requests, which is just mind-blowing. I mean, absolutely mind-blowing. It just doesn't really happen like that," she said.

Though not direct causes, rising temperatures paired with economic factors play a role.

"Things are just really tough, economically, in the United States. People are in really tough financial situations and that causes a lot of problems inside the home," Barahona said. "The temperature rises, people get cranky, kids are out of school, there's already a lack of childcare availability, so there's that to consider."

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than one in three women and one in four men will experience some kind of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Barahona said of the increase in calls for service, several of those have come from men.

She also said Safe Harbor's court advocates have seen an increase in requests for protective orders but noted that those orders are only active at certain times, such as when both parties have been served protective order paperwork.

"I think that there could be more protective things out there for survivors, for sure," Barahona said. "Unfortunately, I think that we're working on it, but I think we've got a ways to go."

Barahona said it's critical to look out for signs of isolation or changes in physical appearance among your peers who you think may be in an abusive relationship, noting that they might be more isolated or display changes in their physical appearance.

She also recommends everyone have a safety plan, especially for how to leave a potentially violent situation in their home.

More information about Safe Harbor's services and hotline can be found here.

You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or text BEGIN to 88788.

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