ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Trapped in abuse and then shot to death.
That's what's happened to four different mothers and their children.
Since October, we've seen four double or triple homicides in the St. Louis area all tied to domestic violence.
The latest one was in St. Louis County Friday morning.
A mother and two children killed inside a home.
Jessica Woolbright is the executive director of St. Martha’s Hall in St. Louis.
Its mission is to help abused women and their children break the cycle of abuse.
"The number one reason women stay in relationships is fear," she said.
There are many reasons why someone stays. On average, it takes a victim seven times to leave.
Men and women can be abusers.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one in four women and one in seven men 18 and older have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
But in these four different homicide situations, all the adult victims were women.
While domestic violence can affect anyone, statistics show, Black women face this at a higher rate and face unique barriers seeking help.
Bran-Dee Jelks is the program director for the Diamond Diva Empower Foundation.
“We have to take our pride down and take our capes as African American women and it’s OK to say that you need help,” she said.
The foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating, strengthening and empowering women and children affected by domestic violence.
The founder Eddie Ross explained the root of abuse is based on power and control. When an abuser feels they are losing that power and control, advocates say tactics increase and violence escalates.
Woolbright said the most dangerous time is when a victim wants to leave. That's why it's key to have a safety plan to minimize the risk.
"Having a plan of action, having a plan to leave, and knowing the resources are there if I do leave,” Ross said.
For friends or family speaking to a loved one about it, the best advice from Woolbright is to not judge them.
"That violence is going to breed in isolation, so if everyone thinks it’s not their business or it’s something behind closed doors, then we are not doing our part," she added.
She also recommends finding ways to make them feel safe.
CEO Susan Kidder with Safe Connections also gives this reminder, "This is not your fault. You have resources. We need to hold abusers accountable and not question or blame survivors."
We can also contribute by not asking why a victim stays, but rather ask why an abuser abuses.
As for resources, there's therapy, financial help and shelters.
Diamond Diva Empower Foundations is funded through the state for a housing program. They can offer $1,500 to help and have a program to empower them.
Organizations in the area can also refer resources or provide a safety plan too.
It's not easy to walk away, but there are people that can guide the way forward.
If you need someone to talk to or need resources, you can call or text the Safe Connections 24-hour hotline number at 314-531-2003.
For St. Martha Hall, that hotline is available 24/7 at 314-533-1313.