Arkansas Expected To Set Record For Domestic Violence Deaths

    5:31 PM, Dec 3, 2007   |    comments
    • Kateshia Weathers
    • Marquita Smith
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    UALR student Marquita Smith was murdered. "That was my friend and he took her that quickly," says Kim Espino. Katesia Weathers, a domestic violence victim, is missing from Pine Bluff. “She came here looking for a job because she came back from Atlanta," says Weathers’ mom Rosie Thomas. Smith and Weathers are two women, from two different cities. They are both strangers with something terrible in common. Espino says, It wasn't like just a little slap, it was more than that. It was marks, black eyes, whatever." "No one deserves to be treated like that," explains Thomas. Smith was found murdered last week in Little Rock. Her boyfriend confessed to the killing. Weathers disappeared in May. Her family suspects her ex, who they say abused her, but police still have no suspects, or her body. Jayne Ann Kita with the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence says, “No one deserves to be controlled and physically hit and live in a state of fear." Kita believes the increasing number of deaths is due to a lack of awareness, including with lawmakers and communities, and victims not knowing where to get help. "Unfortunately in 2007, I think we'll easily be in the top ten again and exceed our deaths,” says Kita. “The highest death total I know to date was in 2005 and I think in 2007 we'll exceed that." Right now, there are 31 shelters serving Arkansas' 75 counties. Each one offers battered women and children warm beds, warm meals and warm hearts. Kita explains, "It is not the victim's fault. It's not your fault. There are people that want to help you and you deserve to feel safe." A lack of funding is a big issue though, and keeping the doors open is difficult. That’s something that worries Kita because she knows shelters may be the only hope for a better life. Kita says, "There are probably victims out there we don't know if yet." So the driving force continues to put a stop to abusive images. The images shared by strangers Marquita Smith, Kateisa Weathers and hundreds of other women across Arkansas. More shelters will be open across Arkansas by the first of the year. They’ll serve battered women and children in Forrest City, Ash Flat and Dardanelle. If you're a victim of domestic violence and need help you can call the state's 24-hour hotline 1-800-269-4668. For more information on shelters in your area and how you can help by volunteering or donating time and/or money, click on the link under the pictures.

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