JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. - Johnson County's only shelter for domestic violence victims has seen a 35 percent increase in severe cases this year. It sounds like a terrible number, but the reason behind it is a fairly new program that's actually saving lives.
SafeHome stays at capacity and every day they are figuring out where to fit more women and children.
"The majority of them have left with nothing and they have nothing so SafeHome relies on the community to provide them with the basic necessities," Leah Swindle with SafeHome said.
SafeHome provides everyday items thanks to donations which include clothing. In July 2011, the nonprofit partnered with Johnson and Miami counties to train police officers who respond to domestic violence calls.
"With this lethality program the goal is to hopefully start an intervention process before it gets to the extreme," Swindle said.
According To Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe, that training is working.
"This tool is meant to be a proactive way that law enforcement, victim advocates and the legal system can work together to help victims get out of dangerous relationships," he said.
After the first year, officers recommended almost 700 to SafeHome. In the last year, that number is around 600. But of those families who SafeHome assessed, that number has nearly tripled since the first year.
"They're taking that extra step to really screen each victim and really talking with them and then immediately putting them in contact with our SafeHome Hotline Advocates ," Swindle said.
If you know someone who might need help call their hotline at 913-262-2868 .