BATON ROUGE - Domestic violence is on the rise in Louisiana, with the state ranking fourth in the nation for murders related to domestic violence.
In 2012, 45 women were killed in Louisiana by a man, according to the Violence Policy Center. They reported that 90 percent of those women knew their killer, and of those who knew them most shared an intimate relationship.
The FBI says across the country, a woman falls victim to battery every 15 seconds. The issue was brought into focus after NFL player Ray Rice was fired by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the league after a video showed him punching his then-financee, in an elevator.
Advocacy groups in Louisiana hope public events like this shine a light on domestic violence in the state.
"If more people are aware of it they might start to notice red flags and maybe offer folks some help," said Judy Benitez, executive director of the ISIS Domestic Violence Center. "Or if it's the case of an offender that they're close to, let them know that what they're doing is not okay."
Theolonious Gage knows the pain of being struck by someone you love. She said she was beaten multiple times for more than a year before she finally walked away.
"My head got banged against the wall," Gage explained. "He pinned me down on the bed, he beat me in my face. Dislocated my jaw. I had two black eyes. And a busted nose."
She said the worst pain, though, was losing her baby girl to the same type of violence she suffered.
"My daughter died so I started working harder to get the message out that domestic violence is real and how it can affect you," Gage said.
Local advocates say people need to be aware of red flags, and call 911 if they see something happening. Benitez also warns people to never blame the victim.
"He's violent, she knows that," Benitez said. "She's trying to minimize the violence."
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, please visit the Domestic Violence Center's website or call (225) 389-3001.