BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The murder at McKinley Mall is not the only case of domestic violence this year, in fact, there have been multiple high profile deaths this summer. Including Tetiana Burks, 34, of Cheektowaga and Jacquette Lee, 25, of Buffalo.
"When people do decide to leave, that's the most dangerous time, so it's important to have a safety plan," said Suzanne Suchan, a domestic violence survivor and founder of the non-profit Love Shouldn't Hurt.
She says the murder of Mallicia Tipps in Hamburg was a wake up call. The Family Justice Center says the number of domestic violence incidents in Western New York this year is higher than usual.
"We've seen a couple dozen homicides here in Erie County and Niagara Counties since Christmas Eve. This is a public health crisis," said Mary Travers Murphy, CEO of the Family Justice Center.
So, what's behind this?
"One theory is that mass shootings and the violence in our society empowers these abusers," said Murphy.
Murphy says there are several red flags to look out for:
- Victim afraid of partner
- Recently separated
- Forced into sexual acts
- Constant jealousy
- Suicide threats
- Breaking windows or doors to get to someone
- Abuse of alcohol or drugs
There are resources in the area:
- Family Justice Center Hotline: 716-558-7233
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
- 211 WNY 1-888-696-9211
- Haven House: 716-884–6000
- Erie County Hotline: 716-862-4357
Suchan says the community can also be helpful.
"If somebody looks in fear than keep an eye on them. Say 'is everything okay? Can I help you with something? You might be able to get through to that person and that may help save their life," said Suchan.