Domestic Violence Hits Home

Nearly one third of the women murdered in this country are killed by their husbands or boyfriends. A woman is beaten in the U-S every 15 seconds.

Those two statistics show how widespread the problem of domestic violence has become.

A double murder in Wiggins this week brought the impact close to home.

56 year old Willie Wortham is charged with the stabbing deaths of his wife and 12 year old stepson.

The experts are all too familiar with such family tragedy.

The double murder in Wiggins followed a history of domestic violence. Shirley Wortham even filed charges against her husband last year, only to drop them before the case went to court.

The director of the Gulf Coast Women's Center says domestic violence is often a pattern of behavior.

"The cycle becomes shorter in terms of the episodes of violence. The episodes of violence become more severe. In terms of law enforcement being called, the more times law enforcement is called out to a particular home, the greater the risk of a homicide occurring," said Jane Philo.

Philo says domestic violence often goes unnoticed. Victims can cover bruises or other obvious injuries. Behavior is disguised.

"Perpetrators put up a good front in the community. Victims do so also for different reasons. But it's common that neighbors don't realize how serious it is. Most people don't realize how serious it is."

Domestic violence troubles are among the most common calls to police. But for responding police officers they can be the most dreaded. Often times officers will find themselves thrust into the middle of a family feud where a frenzy of emotions can make the situation dangerous and unpredictable.

"A man and a woman in situations like that can become extremely violent, because you're dealing with those two people who have emotional feelings for each other and they're of course arguing. That's the reason we're responding there," said Biloxi police officer, Aldon Helmert.

Jane Philo says domestic abuse victims need to find help.

"There are shelters. There are places victims can come to if they choose to. Sometimes they just really have to leave the state, leave the area in order to leave a perpetrator. Some perpetrators are just that dangerous."