Percentage of domestic violence victims reaching out for help on the rise

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WINSTON-SALEM - Victims of domestic violence are starting to reach out in higher numbers here in the Piedmont.

Winston-Salem's Family Services, which specializes in helping domestic violence victims, says they've seen a 30 to 40 percent increase in people calling in asking for help and that's just in the last two weeks.

Experts don't think there's been an increase in domestic violence in the area, just that the victims are now realizing they're not alone, thanks to multiple recent cases which have gained national attention.

For one woman in the Piedmont, domestic violence was something she dealt with for years before getting help.

"He was very abusive when I was pregnant because he was not getting the attention," said the victim, who now has a new identity, so we couldn't put her on camera. "After the relationship progressed, he became more jealous, more controlling."

The victim said that the father of her child repeatedly beat her and threatened her for years.

"He pulled out a gun, a 9 millimeter, to my head. I got very scared, so I didn't do anything," she said.

The victim nearly lost her life because she didn't ask for help. She says the father of her child stabbed her 21 times and left her for dead.

"If he finds me, I don't know if I'll be able to be alive," she said.

Family Services says the calls they have been getting vary in severity, yet they will gladly help anyone who is ready to get it.

"Some folks have been a survivor of domestic violence for years and are just now coming forward with it and realizing that they need somebody to talk to," said Brittney Maine, victim advocate for the organization. "Some folks are hysterical when they call; they're with their abuser at the time and they may have just been able to slip away for a moment and go into the bathroom and make a phone call."

Family Services has a multitude of avenues they can take to help domestic violence victims. They say all it takes is a phone call. However, they're sure many victims still have not reached out.

"That can be fear of being judged, or ridiculed, or they may have a certain image that they'd like to keep up in the community," said Maine.

This trend is not just being seen in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Other counties within the Piedmont say they've seen an increase in calls, but did not have the statistics ready at the time of this story.

However, the National Domestic Violence Hotline says they have seen an 84 percent increase in calls for service. That increase was reached just two days after the video of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice allegedly punching his now-wife was made public.

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