Domestic violence considered an epidemic in Milwaukee

NOW: Domestic violence considered an epidemic in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Over the weekend, a 51-year-old woman from Milwaukee was allegedly shot to death by her boyfriend. The Milwaukee Police Department said domestic violence homicides are only increasing.

On July 31, Desiree Harris was shot dead during a domestic related circumstance. It happened at her home on 38th Street in the Thurston Woods neighborhood. Her friend, Betty Goner, said the perpetrator was her boyfriend who Harris was trying to leave.

"Our last conversation was about trying to get out and I was like, 'let's just get together and come up with an escape plan,'" said Goner.

Harris worked as a domestic violence advocate at The Asha Project, a violence prevention and intervention agency.

The director of the agency, Antonia Drew-Norton, said the pandemic is to blame for the spike in domestic homicides.

"You have increased mental health challenges on multiple levels and you have the issue of substance abuse and couple these things with hyper-segregation that is typical in the city and county of Milwaukee," said Drew-Norton.

She said the most affected are women of color.

"These women aren't just being beaten, they're being shot," said Drew-Norton.

MPD said they've reported 14 domestic homicides, 13 of those victims were shot dead. 

The department says year to date, they have seen a 44% increase in deadly domestic violence across the Milwaukee area.

On Tuesday, law enforcement and the Sojourner Family Peace Center spoke about their Domestic Violence High Risk Team.

District Attorney John Chisolm said his department had teamed up with Sojourner to help combat that issue, and said more resources are needed.

"We have to make a commitment as a community to adequately resource the people that are doing. Everybody here is fighting way above their weight class," said Chisolm.

But Drew-Norton said it's also going to take men to join the conversation to see an end to domestic violence.

The director of The Asha Project said most women of color do not leave their communities, which is why it's important to have resources available in those neighborhoods.

Several domestic abuse resources for different communities in Milwaukee can be found below: 

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