Domestic violence is a crisis in Tennessee. Once again, Tennessee ranks among the worst in the country for females murdered by males.
In fact, the state ranks fifth across the country in an annual study released Tuesday by the Violence Policy Center.
Tennessee has been somewhere on the study's top-10 list for the last nine years.
According to the study, there were 65 females killed by males in 2016 in Tennessee, and 95 percent of those victims were murdered by someone they knew.
"You may see on television or in Hollywood these random attacks and certainly they do occur, it's just that's less likely than someone you know," said Sharon Roberson, CEO of the YWCA.
The YWCA is based in Nashville and operates the largest domestic violence shelter in Tennessee. There are currently 51 beds available for women and children, which are almost always filled. The organization has plans to increase the number of beds to 65.
Roberson believes there is a misconception about domestic violence.
"Just because you're living in a beautiful home and you're a certain race or certain age that doesn't mean you're protected from domestic violence," said Roberson.
Rusty Powell says her ex-husband abused her for four years. She says one day he called to tell her he was on his way to kill her.
"He got one block away from my house. He ran a red light, got hit by a truck and broke his neck, and that's the only thing that stopped him from killing me that night," said Powell.
She now advocates for more education and tighter domestic violence laws to protect victims.
"What are we told as little girls? Oh, if he is picking on you then he likes you. If he's pulling your hair that means he likes you. No it doesn't. Stop telling your kids that," said Powell. "We're not educating men on what's okay and what's not okay and that needs to be done."
The warning signs of an abusive relationship include:
- Controlling, including telling you what to wear and how to look
- Trying to isolate you from your family and friends
If you or a loved one is suffering from an abusive relationship, you can contact the YWCA Domestic Violence Hotline at (615) 242-1199 or (800) 334-4628.