GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Organizations that help victims of domestic violence are seeing a high demand for services.

In less than a week, West Michigan has seen two lethal cases of domestic violence that have claimed the lives of two women and their children.

A vigil was held Sunday to remember the victims of a shooting in Mecosta County, a mother and her three children. Investigators believe the family’s father is responsible for their deaths.

The community of Wyoming is mourning the loss of a woman and her two children after police were called to a home early Tuesday morning. Police say a man shot and killed his girlfriend and two of her children before turning the gun on himself.

The YWCA in Grand Rapids. (May 31, 2022)

The YWCA says the number of cases have increased in the past few years and demand for victim services remain strong.

Charisse Mitchell, the CEO of the YWCA in Grand Rapids, is heartbroken to see domestic violence claiming so many lives in West Michigan. 

“We had seen an increase in the era of COVID when the pandemic first hit. We were seeing increases of 25 to 35% in domestic violence cases kind of across aboard and that number really hasn’t leveled off,” Mitchell said.

The YWCA provides a variety of resources to victims including a 24-hour crisis line, help with securing housing, childcare, legal assistance, counseling and employment. 

“You don’t have to wait until it’s emergency. We’re here to listen to you to support you to help safety plan for you and your family whenever you’re ready to call,” Mitchell said.

Convincing victims to seek help can often be challenging.

“You may choose to stay or feel like you have no other option. Often domestic violence is about power and control and so for years or months you have been told that you don’t have options that you don’t have choices that no one is going to believe you,” Mitchell said.

Bethany Hall is a nurse practitioner who started Healing Connection, an organization that works with children who have survived domestic abuse.

“It happens in little tiny steps towards danger and so I think that’s the important thing is educating ourselves,” Hall said.  

She says it is a problem that can be easy to ignore if it is not happening to you or your family but it has a lasting impact throughout the community.

“These children will grow up and these children will be our future and they will be our neighbors and our friends and so the impact that this domestic violence trauma has on these children for a lifetime is something that can impact all of us,” Hall said.

For more information on domestic violence resources, visit the YWCA website.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the national domestic violence helpline at 800.799.7233, the Grand Rapids YWCA helpline at 616.454.9922 or the Safe Haven Ministries helpline at 616.452.6664.