Recent killings of mothers in NOLA are part of a 'crisis' involving women, advocates say

New Orleans Family Justice Center
New Orleans Family Justice Center Photo credit WWL/Audacy

The recent shootings and murders in New Orleans that involved female victims have grabbed headlines and the attention of city leaders. At least five mothers have been shot or murdered in as many weeks.

Those are the incidents that have taken place in public spaces or have gotten public attention. There is an often less visible kind of violence against women, but it can be equally dangerous and deadly.

I recently visited a place most people hope they never have to enter: the New Orleans Family Justice Center. Its name may sound like some kind of immigration processing center or perhaps a place providing legal services, but its purpose is to protect women or any victim of domestic violence. On average, the New Orleans Family Justice center sees about 3,000 new clients every year. But this year, the team at the NOFJC has noticed a change in the severity of injuries victims have been coming in with.

“I’ll say this, we’ve always seen violence against women here at the New Orleans Family Justice Center. But what we’ve recently seen, and I’m not diminishing domestic violence at all, but before, we would maybe see a slap, a hit or a push. Now, the violence is getting much more intense. We are seeing women coming in physically black and blue. We have seen women coming in with no teeth in their mouth, all of their teeth have been knocked out, bleeding. Just a couple of weeks ago someone came in and her eye was swollen shut because she was beaten so bad. We’re seeing women being shot. We’re seeing women rolled over by a car, beaten to death,” said Trashanda Grayes, executive director at the New Orleans Family Justice Center.

When multiple mothers and women had been shot or murdered in the past weeks, Grayes and other workers at the NOFJC checked their records to see if any of those victims had previously sought out the many services the justice center offers. It’s what they’ve always done when they hear of a woman being shot or killed in New Orleans. For the sake of privacy, Grayes didn’t want to comment if that applied to any of the cases that have played out in the media. But she did say there have been several women in the past who once turned to the NOFJC for help but ultimately became victims of homicide. So, what may be behind this current escalation of violence toward women in New Orleans? And why can’t a “battered woman” simply leave a potentially life threatening situation? Listen to the podcast here.

Featured Image Photo Credit: WWL/Audacy