PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — This week’s presumed murder of Shanita Eure-Lewis, a Newport News woman and mother of two, is a case that saddens the community, but sadly is not surprising to those who work with victims of domestic violence.

“For Black and African American women the rates of lethality is 2.5 times higher than any other ethnic group,” said Courtney Pierce with the Samaritan House shelter in Virginia Beach.

Pierce, and Transitions shelter Executive Director Senu Dieng, talked with 10 On Your Side about ways to stop the cycle.

“We encourage folks to call whether you are experiencing intimate partner violence or you know someone,” Dieng said.

Hampton Roads has four domestic violence shelters; Samaritan House (Virginia Beach), Transitions (Hampton), H.E.R. (Portsmouth/Chesapeake) and YWCA (Norfolk) that each offer services including:

  • 24-Hour Hotlines
  • Safety Planning
  • Free Counseling
  • Court Advocacy
  • Financial Assistance

Pierce said money is a big issue that keeps many in dangerous situations. “They said ‘I just could not afford to leave.'”

And while many advocates would say they can’t afford not to leave, Pierce and Dieng understand the need to tailor an individual plan.

“We can talk through those options and weigh the risks that are associated with leaving and staying and be strategic with helping you make the decision that is best for you and your relationship,” Dieng explained.

There is no one perfect solution Dieng said, adding, there is one thing that’s for sure though. “Ultimately, living a life free from violence and being safe is an option for all of us.”

If you or you know someone who may be a victim of domestic violence or child abuse, click here for a list of local and national resources.