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YWCA launching new domestic violence resources in Anderson County, conducting statewide study

The TBI reported more than 73,000 instances of domestic violence in 2018. Oak Ridge leadership said 234 of those cases were in Anderson County.

ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — October is national domestic violence awareness month, and that crime is something many leaders and groups in Tennessee are trying to combat.

TBI Director David Rausch said Easter Sunday is "the most violent domestic violence day in the state of Tennessee."

The TBI reported 73,568 instances of domestic violence in 2018.

The mayor of Oak Ridge said 234 of those were in Oak Ridge and Anderson County.

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That county is getting more help as the YWCA of Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley prepares to expand and launch new initiatives there.

"Anderson is a place where we're able to grow some of these services around domestic violence because unfortunately it's just such a prevalent issue," said Alizza Puzalan-Randle, CEO of YWCA of Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley.

First, a dedicated Department of Children's Services liaison will work with women at YWCA in Anderson, Loudon and Roane counties

Second, the YWCA is also expanding its "Game Changers" program to Anderson county. That's a violence prevention program for middle school boys.

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Third, thanks to a three-year grant totaling $550,000, the YWCA will run Anderson County's only supervised visitation center for domestic violence victims and their families.

"Children need to be able to have access to both parents if they have both parents in their life, but sometimes it's not always easy," said Puzalan-Randle. "It's not always going to be the safest situation."

Their Oak Ridge building will be renovated in parts to accommodate these meetings, and make sure victims and offenders are escorted by security through separate entrances.

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The YWCA hopes to have this program staffed and running in 2020.

Fourth, they're working with the TBI to conduct a study on the economic impact of domestic violence in Tennessee.

Puzalan-Randle said women dealing with domestic violence often miss work, resulting in loss of wages and productivity.

"[We will] be able to go to, say, work places and tell them, 'Hey you really need to beef up your training, you need to beef up your awareness of how this is impacting your bottom line and your company,'" she said.

The YWCA hopes to have the results of this study in 2020.

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These initiatives paired with the work by local law enforcement aim to cut down domestic violence in Anderson County and across Tennessee.

If you or someone in your life needs help, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24/7.

That phone number is 1-800-799-7233.

You can also chat with a specialist online here.