On the morning of July 31, Karri Baker’s ex-boyfriend shot her in the head before taking his own life. The Germantown, Tennessee, couple had recently broken up, according to reports, and were moving out the house they had shared. Baker, who died in the hospital two days later, was 38. She left behind a daughter from a previous marriage.
On average, three or more women in the United States are killed every day by intimate partners. In many cases, the relationship may have already ended, as leaving a relationship is often the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence.
Germantown, a suburb of Memphis, may seem like an unlikely setting for such a gruesome crime. The city of 40,000 has low crime rates, and is by most accounts a safe, prosperous community. But Doug McGowen, director of the Memphis Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team and coordinator of the recently launched Memphis Says NO MORE campaign, knows that this sort of violence can happen anywhere, and to anyone.
“Memphis is a city that is a good representation of the fact that it [domestic violence and sexual assault] happens everywhere,” McGowen says. “We have a high rate of poverty, but we also have very affluent areas. Demographically, it’s equally represented by black and white residents.”
In response to stories like Karri’s, as well as the discovery of thousands of untested rape kits, Memphis leaders, including the Mayor’s Office, launched the Memphis says NO MORE campaign this Spring, taking a multi-pronged approach to the issue. In addition to testing the backlogged rape kits, the campaign works to increase availability of victim services and promote awareness of the issues.
This September, area colleges will convene at the University of Memphis to screen The Hunting Ground, a unflinching expose of sexual assault on college campuses, with the hope that each campus will follow up by launching its own NO MORE campaign.
McGowen says the goal of the campaign is to raise awareness while decreasing the number of untested rape kits and incidences of domestic violence and sexual assault. He hopes that the campaign’s multiple levels of engagement will reach every sphere of the Memphis community and compel them to join together in saying “NO MORE.”
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