Virginia Beach fights domestic violence

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Video of a star player hitting his fiancee has rocked the NFL, and has once again, brought domestic violence into the headlines. It’s a problem everywhere, and now Hampton Roads’ largest city is taking a new step toward understanding and preventing violent acts at home.

Although some people live to tell their stories of survival, there are still those who don’t survive. In an effort to prevent that, a resolution will go before the Virginia Beach City Council Tuesday night to form a Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team.

The goal is to turn things around before another life caught in the cycle of domestic violence is lost. 10 On Your Side spoke to a woman who says that lost life was almost hers. Ten years ago, the mother of two made a move that nearly cost her, her life.

“It wasn’t just a kick in the face,” Katrina Freeman said. “It was a kick in the head. Then a kick in the chest. It was just constant. I got involved with someone I hadn’t known for that long. But he was a gentleman, kind of swept me off my feet, said all the right things. It’s embarrassing. You don’t want to tell your family, ‘I’m going through this and I need help,’ because in my family it’s something we’ve dealt with before.”

Katrina’s story, although brutal, isn’t uncommon. She suffered in silence, caught in a vicious cycle she knew well. Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle said nearly 3,000 domestic violence cases, like Katrina’s and worse, come through his office every year, so he’s excited about the new review team.

“I was approached early on after my election by Samaritan House, and they felt it was a great opportunity for us to get together,” Stolle said. “It gives us the opportunity from every possible angle to sit down and take a look at what could have been done differently along the way.”

Larissa Sutherland, who will facilitate the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, sent this statement to “We have a really dedicated group of people who have spent a year not only building a review team, but also strengthening the relationships that will make our team successful.”

Success is what their partners at the Her Shelter in Portsmouth hope for them too.

“A lot of times, victims don’t easily trust people, and so if everyone is on board together, I think it’s just going to make the impact all the more effective,” Brittany Landon said.

Statistics show domestic violence accounts for about a third of all homicides in Virginia each year.

Document: 2013 Annual Report: Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia

Norfolk, Newport News and Hampton already have similar fatality review teams. The resolution in Virginia Beach is on the consent agenda, which means it will pass unanimously Tuesday night.

Document: Virginia’s Violence Fatality Review Teams

If you’re a victim of domestic violence or you want to help someone who is, we’re on your side with resources to help.

Local resources for victims of domestic violence:

  • Samaritan House
    2620 Southern Boulevard
    Virginia Beach, Va. 23452
    Phone: 757-630-0710
    24-hour Confidential Crisis Hotline: (757) 430 – 2120 
  • Transitions Family Violence
    137 Kings Way
    Hampton, Va. 23669
    Phone: (757) 722-2261 
  • The Genieve Shelter
    157 N Main St
    Suffolk, Va. 23434
    Phone: 757-925-4365
    24-hour Crisis Hotline: 1-800-969-HOPE (4673) 
  • YWCA South Hampton Roads – Women in Crisis
    5215 Colley Avenue
    Norfolk, Va. 23508
    Phone: 757-625-4248
    Website:click here 
  • Help and Emergency Response (H.E.R.) Shelter
    Portsmouth, Va.
    Phone: 757-485-1445
    24-hour Crisis Hotline: (757) 485 – 3384 
  • Chesapeake Victim/Witness Assistance Program
    Protective Order Services
    301 Albemarle Drive 2nd Floor
    Chesapeake, Va.  23322
  • Avalon: A Center for Women & Children
    P.O. Box 1079
    Williamsburg, VA 23187
    Office: 757-258-5022

National resources for victims of domestic violence:

  • National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
    National Domestic Violence Hotline:
    1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

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