ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WNCN) – The effects of domestic violence are often felt by many. Yolanda Thigpen with the Rocky Mount Police Department is very aware.

“I’ve seen personal family members who died at the hands of their loved ones. This is just an important issue people need to be knowledgeable of and exposed to,” Thigpen said.

Thigpen is the communication engagement coordinator for the Rocky Mount Police Department.

So far this year, Rocky Mount officers have responded to 1,926 domestic disturbance calls and 139 domestic violence calls.

Thigpen said knowing the signs and reaching out for help isn’t always easy, but it can be vital.

“If a person does not get out of a domestic violence relationship it may be—and I hate to say it in this manner—but it may just be the death of them, so it’s important that they take ownership of their life and they get the resources they need,” said Thigpen.

While October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, Rocky Mount officers said it’s an issue they focus on all year long. The agency not only partners with several groups and services, but it also focuses on community engagement to help spread awareness in the community.

Last week, the police department also began collecting used and donated phones to make sure people including victims of domestic violence are always able to dial 911 in an emergency. It’s part of an initiative with the national coalition called Secure the Call.

Last year, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety reported 115 victims of domestic violence-related homicides. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) also states one in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.

The North Carolina Department of Administration’s Council for Women and Youth Involvement currently helps fund more than 100 domestic violence programs that include counseling, 24-hour crisis lines, transportation and court services. Altogether these programs support more than 75,000 clients—78% who are women and between the ages of 25-59.

Thigpen said officers with the Rocky Mount Police Department want to ensure families receive the help that is out there and available. She said, “It’s just important that we can provide our information access to help navigate this information and to just know that we’re not ignorant about what’s going on. We’re not silent about what’s going on in our communities– We want to be a part of what’s going and provide a part to offer some relief and some solutions.”

The police department plans to host a free, public forum on Thursday, Oct. 12, where members of the community can ask questions about domestic violence, learn about available resources and talk to experts. The event starts at 6 p.m. at the Booker T. Washington Theater on Thomas Street.