More requests for help at battered women's shelter
More Requests for Help at Battered Women's Shelter In the last two weeks three women in Mecklenburg County have been shot and killed. Police say their current and ex-boyfriends murdered them. In one case, a mother's teenage son was also killed. Charlotte Mecklenburg Police say they're not seeing an increase in other domestic- violence-crimes. But the county's main hotline for battered women is getting more calls for help. The Shelter for Battered Women in Charlotte is almost always full and it's been that way for a couple years now. But since the summer, it's been especially busy. "There were in August two nights in a row we were sheltering over 70 people and we have a 29-bed facility. And we can just see as the housing crisis gets worse and people are being laid off, we're just seeing a huge increase in need," says Kelly Forney. She's the co-director of Domestic Violence programs at United Family Services in Charlotte. Many requests for help are refused because the shelter doesn't have much space, just those 29 beds and 10 hotel rooms to offer women and children. Last year, the shelter had to turn down about 1500 requests for help. This year, the shelter is on pace to refuse more than 2,000. The shelter's coordinator, Jane Taylor, is used to working in full quarters. So she says although the phones have been ringing more, not too much has changed at the shelter itself. "It's been ticking like this all year, so when the economy started bottoming out this summer, we were still busy. We were busy when it bottomed out, we're busy now," says Taylor. She did expect more requests for help to come in as the economy slumped since she says the strain of dealing with finances can sometimes escalate violence. "The joblessness, the layoffs, those kinds of things bring in an extra risk factor," says Taylor. Taylor walks from room-to-room throwing away scraps on the floor and pointing out crayon scrawls where they shouldn't be. One woman who goes by Anais greets her and points out an especially large patch of crayon-work on the back of a chair. "This is our Picasso," laughs Anais. "I've got some graffiti remover we can wipe down all this," says Taylor. Anais has been at the shelter since late October. "I have a husband when I married him, I lived and breathed him. We had a big church wedding. Eventually he owned his own business and I married that man because I loved that man. But that man eventually showed his true colors and started hitting on me," says Anais. It took 11 years for Anais to leave him. She says the economy had little to do with why she finally walked out, but it's something she will have to contend with now. With little education, she wonders if she'll get a decent paying job. "So it's going to be hard for me to go out there and change and make enough money to fend for myself. But this is something I have to do. It's hard for me to go back to school at 46 years. But that's why I was trapped in the relationship because someone always took care of me," explains Anais. She currently waitresses part time and has saved up enough money for a deposit on an apartment. But as she looks toward the future, she can't help but notice the headlines: Man accused of ambushing and murdering his girlfriend; Boyfriend murders a woman and her son, daughter escapes with minor injuries. "When I see it on the news in the morning, it hurts cause we're the lucky ones," says Anais. .