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Domestic violence crimes increase in Seattle

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SEATTLE — Grace Huang is the public policy coordinator for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  She doesn’t focus on statistics, but she knows domestic violence is a growing problem in Washington.

domesticThere were 695 domestic violence assaults in Seattle in 2012, a 51% increase from four years ago.

“We have about 44 shelters across the state, and on a regular basis, our shelters are turning people away because they’re full,” she says. “In King County alone, the turn-away rate is probably 20.”

That means for every one woman or family that is able to find a bed in an emergency shelter, 20 are turned away. It’s not a new problem.

“We’ve never had enough beds, but we are seeing the demand rise. We are seeing the demand rise, the number of requests rise, I think it has to do with the overall state of the economy.”

According to statistics from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, the number of domestic violence crimes rose after 2008, when the economy took a turn.

“We know domestic violence isn’t caused by unemployment or the lack of economic resources, but we think the lack of economic resources exacerbates the problem.”

Huang says abusers who are not working may have more time to commit crimes, or victims may not have the ability to leave an abusive relationship because of financial concerns.

But Huang says every day, victims are being saved. That may be one reason that the numbers are going up, because victims are reporting crimes.

“There’s also a lot more awareness these days, I think we’ve done a very good job of educating people about the fact domestic violence is problematic and it’s wrong.”

If you or someone you know is involved in an abusive relationship, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available for free, 24 hours a day. The number is 1-800-799-7233.

The Seattle Mariners are also hosting a 5K run/walk to benefit the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. For more information on The Refuse to Abuse 5k, go to http://www.wsadv.org.

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