Action News spoke with a mom of two, who is still in hiding, still running from her ex-boyfriend. We're concealing her identity for her own safety, but she told us to call her "Victoria," representing her victory over her attacker. She said, "The last time he hurt me was the second time he broke my ribs."
She wanted to tell us her story, hoping it will inspire other victims to come forward and to get help. Victoria endured two years of physical and mental abuse before realizing she couldn't take anymore.
Victoria is one of the many women getting help from the Marjaree Mason Center. The non-profit organization isn't seeing an increase of cases like that of law enforcement, but they do say, the victims who are coming in are younger, and their injuries are extreme.
Lucianna Ventresca, the Associate Director of residential services said, "We're getting clients coming in from the hospital because they're so severely damaged from the abuse."
Police say 2013 has seen the biggest increase in cases. This January saw a 32% increase over last January. Fresno police released the following numbers from January through March:
2009 = 125
2010 = 92
2011 = 113
2012 = 61
2013 = 100
Police have also noticed that gang members are involved in multiple cases, with multiple women. The Marjaree Mason center says, victims who are involved with gangs are usually too scared to seek help.
Lucianna Ventresca said, "The networking of that makes it very difficult for them to be safe."
Victoria tells us, she's working on finding a job, and a place to live where she can be safe with her children. She also has this advice, for victims who are debating whether to get help: "Don't think about it twice, listen to your heart, eventually it will come in place."
Chief Dyer says police are now turning their focus on gang members who are involved in domestic violence.