By Ashley Conroy
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - October 1st marks the start of Domestic Violence Awareness month.
To educate others about the dangers, the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence celebrated 30 years in service at their first "Purple for Peace" event in Jackson on Friday.
"It's to help build public awareness about the issue of domestic violence, but also to let people know about the strides that have been made here in this state," said Executive Director Anna Walker-Krump.
The state passed tougher laws against domestic abuse that took effect on July 1st of this year.
Strangulation is now a first offense felony as opposed to a misdemeanor. In addition, someone who commits aggravated stalking can face up to five years in prison and a $3,000 fine.
Even with tougher laws, some say the fight against domestic violence hasn't gone far enough.
Sandy Middleton who operates the Center for Violence Prevention in Pearl says often they receive phone calls where they end up having to call police.
"There have been many times where victims have called and they're in the midst of being attacked." Middleton continued, "It's the number one call for law enforcement."
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports Mississippi has the second highest rate of domestic abuse, and the 5th highest rate by death.
For survivor, Voncele Savage these statistics are all too familiar. After 40 years of marriage and abuse, she says she realized when she had enough.
"I had people warn me, if you don't leave there, your husband's going to kill you."
After she finally left, she decided to write two books about her experiences, one titled, "Looking Thru the Fence/Diamonds in the Rough" and the other, "A Letter to My Sisters the Way Out."
"I realized that God had invested a lot in me, my parents had invested a lot in me. And that I was not being able to use it," Savage said.
Middleton says the best option for people in abusive relationships is to open their eyes to the possibility of getting out.
"We want to do everything we can to encourage women to seek help as early as possible, so they can have some choices and make good decisions."
The MS Coalition Against Domestic Violence encourages people to call for help:
Business line: 1(800)898-3234
After hours line: 1(800)799-7233