JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and Hubbard House teamed up Monday to bring awareness to domestic violence in Jacksonville and hopefully put an end to the deadly issue.
Latoya Calhoun said her sister LaShonda Wilson was more than just a sibling. Wilson was a victim of domestic violence after she was fatally shot in a murder-suicide. Wilson was killed by her husband in July 2003.
“She was just an amazing person to me,” Calhoun said. “There isn’t one word that I can use that can describe what she meant to me -- a mother figure, a sister, a friend,” Calhoun said.
Calhoun told News4JAX that her sister hid the mental, physical and verbal abuse she endured.
“He would say, if she left, he would kill her. He said it was a joke, but it was not,” Calhoun said. She said she remembered that night vividly.
Wilson had left the home she shared with her husband and was living with Calhoun when he broke into their apartment.
“Something in me knew my sister was gone, but something wanted me to fight to save her,” Calhoun said.
Incidents such as Wilson’s are reasons why JSO and organizations like Hubbard House continue to work on breaking the cycle, noting the 25 years since the partnership started.
The State Attorney’s Office said there were 18 domestic violence murders in 2021 compared to 14 the year before. In 71% of these murders, men were the suspects. And gun violence continues to be responsible for the vast majority of domestic violence-related homicides.
8,700+ domestic violence offenses are reported to law enforcement in #Jax & even more go unreported. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month & it was an honor to stand w/ @JSOPIO & @HubbardHouse to bring awareness & help make every relationship in @CityofJax violence free! pic.twitter.com/aHuBq3gq7H— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) October 3, 2022
“These statistics show an overwhelming disparity and that women are extremely vulnerable in domestic violence situations,” said Khary Gaynor, assistant state attorney deputy director for the special victim’s unit.
Hubbard House said although the numbers are staggering, there are real people behind those numbers.
“That’s why it’s so important to get the message out because these are people. These are real flesh and blood who deserve to live. We want people to know they are not alone, that they won’t become a statistic because they are so much more than that,” said Gail Patin, CEO of Hubbard House.
Calhoun said 19 years later, some days are still hard but chose to share her sister’s story not only to help victims but also to help family members understand the signs if they suspect something.
JSO and Hubbard House want people to know that they are here to help 24/7.
Survivors of domestic violence can access help through the 24/7 Hubbard House Hotline at (904) 354-3114 or Textline at (904) 210-3698. Survivors can also make an appointment or walk into the Hubbard House Outreach Center at 6629 Beach Blvd, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All Hubbard House services are free and confidential.
If you or someone you know is or has been a victim of domestic violence or abuse, here’s a list of resources available:
- Hubbard House Hotline (904) 354-3114 or Textline (904) 210-3698
- The Florida Domestic Violence Hotline, which will direct you to the nearest shelter, is 1-800-500-1119.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24 hours a day. The number is 1-800-799-SAFE.
- The Micah’s Place (Nassau County) Domestic Violence Help Hotline is 904-225-9979.
- The Quigley House (Clay County) hotline is 904-284-0061. https://www.quigleyhouse.org/.
- The Betty Griffin Center (St. Johns County) can be reached at 904-824-1555.