SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Reported cases of domestic violence are on the rise in Greene County. Cris Swaters, public affairs officer with the Springfield Police Department, said in the first week of September, the department saw more reported incidents than usual. 

“Every time that they respond, they’re going to reach out to the victims there,” Swaters said. “Give them resources, let them know that their family justice center is out there and can help them.”

It can be difficult to pinpoint why reported cases are higher, but one of the reasons may be because of community awareness. More reported cases are not necessarily a bad thing because that means more victims are seeking help. 

Harmony House in Springfield kicked off their ninth annual iCare campaign today, and Kristen Snell, the organization’s Community Outreach Director, said the campaign helps get conversations started.

“Putting resources out into the community and getting conversation started,” said Snell. “That creates a space for more folks to come forward and to report those cases of domestic violence, which would then reflect in the higher rates.”  

Snell said anyone could be experiencing domestic violence and it’s important for family and friends to keep an eye out for signs like withdrawing from friends and family, changes in appearance or waiting for approval from his or her partner before responding in conversation. 

“There are so many individuals who may be experiencing domestic violence,” Snell said. “But people in their circle of family or friends don’t realize that it’s happening to that person that they care about.”  

Meleah Klusmeyer was a victim of domestic violence for about a year. 

“I thought I knew how to spot the signs and I would never get myself in that situation,” Klusmeyer said. “But it’s, it’s just insidious is the best word I can think to describe it. It happens very gradually, and before you know it, you’re in this horrible situation.”  

Now Klusmeyer tells her story to help spread awareness. 

“I just was and was and am bound and determined to do anything I can to help make a difference,” Klusmeyer said. “It’s it is my passion. It is what I care about.” 

The Greene County Family Justice Center, Harmony House and The Victim Center have resources available to those experiencing domestic violence.