New domestic violence shelter to open in Jackson Co.

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - A tragedy in Gautier has domestic violence experts even more convinced that Jackson County needs a place where abused women and children can feel safe. Jackson County's only domestic violence shelter, which was run by the Salvation Army, closed last year.

Now The Gulf Coast Women's Center For Non-Violence is stepping in to fill that void with a new shelter set to open in early September.

A Gautier home turned into a house of horror for Amanda Perkins. Police say the 23-year-old was allegedly stabbed to death by her on-again, off-again boyfriend.

"Eighty-five percent of the women who were murdered in a domestic violence situation had left their partner. So why don't women leave? They're scared to death. They're told 'I'll kill you' and we know that's true. So we want to help prevent that," Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Women's Center For Non-Violence Sandra Morrison said.

Before the center opens its new Pascagoula shelter, the staff is meeting with law enforcement to discuss shelter security and to train officers to recognize abuse that's likely to turn deadly..

"There's not a day goes by that we don't answer a domestic violence call whether it's disturbing the family peace or an actual assault or an aggravated assault. These things are very important to the community and they're very important to these battered women," Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd said.

Mark Spicer has been collecting donations for domestic violence victims for more than 20 years. He said he does it because he grew up in abusive home and because of what he sees in his job at the District Attorney's office as the pre-trial diversion director.

"I worry about some of the folks that I oversee because they don't go to the women's shelter or won't go," said Spicer. "They're too afraid to go. Even though we give them the information, they don't go. I'm worried that a crime is going to happen because they're going to get beat up or worse."

"Domestic violence can and will lead to homicide,"said Morrison. "That is just part of the dynamics that happen and the escalation."

The Gulf Coast Women's Center for Non-violence Shelter in Pascagoula will be able to house and counsel 16 women and children. They will keep the hotline number that was used by the previous shelter, 228-762-8267.

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