By Devin Bartolotta

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The crimes often happen behind closed doors, but new numbers show Maryland is one of the worst states for domestic violence.

Marylanders are pushing back against domestic abuse during this “Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” as new numbers show our state has one of the highest rates of relationship violence.

Domestic violence can happen in any city and at any time, but here in Maryland, the number of brutal crimes against partners are staggering.

The crimes are hard to talk about, but are very, very real.

“I knew that if I didn’t leave, I was gonna die,” said domestic violence survivor Holly.

Holly, a Harford County native, is a survivor of severe abuse by her ex-husband.

“It’s literally beaten into you. Like, it’s all your fault. Everything is your fault,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than half of Maryland women will be impacted by sexual violence in their lifetime.

“In regard to sexual violence, Maryland women have the third highest prevalence rate of sexual violence,” said Luisa Caiazzo, of SARC, Sexual Assault/Spouse Abuse Resource Center.

Just this spring, Amber’s Law passed in Maryland, giving domestic violence victims the option to request GPS tracking bracelets for their abusers.

And earlier in October, Baltimore City Hall glowed purple to bring awareness to an issue responsible for 55 deaths last year alone.

“There’s more community awareness, and we’re seeing more discussions about this issue. So people are aware that it’s okay to reach out for help, and there are people that will support them,” said Caiazzo.

For some, that support starts at SARC, which gives victims the tools to not be victims anymore.

“I’m beautiful, I’m strong, I’m courageous. I’m a survivor,” Holly said.

The official numbers only reflect reported domestic violence crimes.

Experts say the actual numbers – not just in Maryland, but across the country – are much higher.

All services offered at SARC – including legal advice and a 24/7 shelter – are free.

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