KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — More than ten million people deal with some sort of physical abuse every year in the U.S., according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Women between 18 and 24 are most likely to face abuse. Domestic violence hotlines receive an average of 20,000 phone calls every day.
Every nine seconds, a woman in the U.S. is assaulted by a current or ex-significant other, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Here in East Tennessee, each year the Helen Ross McNabb 24/7 crisis line gets more than 1,600 domestic violence calls. Just last year they sheltered more than 300 men, women and children in their emergency domestic violence shelters.
Those at the forefront providing help believe community awareness is the first step in lowering those numbers.
"We know it's a significant issue in our community," said Helen Ross McNabb Director of Victim Services Catherine Oaks.
Flower petals on the water may seem insignificant to some, but to dozens of women Tuesday night, they meant much more. The petals represented people affected by domestic violence, placed on the water during Helen Ross McNabb's first 'Flowers on the Water' event.
"Decreasing the number begins with events like this," said Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen.
Domestic violence is a topic Allen works with all too frequently.
"Every year, year after year there are more warrants taken for domestic violence charges than any other crime we have," she said. "Domestic violence is something that shouldn't happen."
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Allen and Oaks want to keep the conversation about domestic violence going.
"When we silence it and don't talk about it, it's a lot harder for victims and survivors to reach out for support," said Oaks.
They believe events like 'Flowers on the Water' give victims much needed hope to reach out for help.
"Breaking that silence -- it's empowering and helps keep that individual from feeling isolated," said Oaks.
At the event, a survivor bravely shared her story of domestic violence. She thanked the services available in East Tennessee for helping her turn her life around after leaving everything she had behind.
The event also served to collect items such as hygiene items and shoes to help victims at the center.
If you need help, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233. You can also chat with a specialist online at thehotline.org.