Wednesday, April 16 2014 10:54 PM EDT2014-04-17 02:54:16 GMT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- According to statistics from the Center for Women and Families, it's an issue that affects one in five women and one in fourteen men in their lifetime.
"When I started doing this work when I was 22, nobody talked about domestic violence and the people who knew about it said we didn't need to be in people's bedrooms, in people's houses," said Marta Miranda, CEO for the Center for Women and Families in Louisville, Ky.
"We also believe that safety trumps privacy -- stay out of my bedroom unless it's on fire," said Rus Funk of MensWork Louisville.
What once was an issue kept behind closed doors is now being placed out in the open for all to see.
"This is an epidemic. It is a public health issue. It is a public safety issue. It's no longer a private issue," Miranda said.
Miranda said statistics show domestic violence claims a dozen lives per year in Jefferson County alone.
"Domestic violence affects every zip code in this city. Every race, every ethnicity," Miranda said.
According to statistics, every 9 seconds in the U.S., a woman is assaulted or beaten. As prevalence has increased, advocates have started to track the numbers in order to save lives.
Experts say one of the ways to break the cycle of violence is to educate the community.
"It takes everyone to actually end domestic violence and sexual assault," Miranda said.
One exhibit at the Muhammad Ali Center hopes to do just that.
"There's always a learning element to our exhibits, but this particular one, Shining a Light is more thought provoking. a little bit more disturbing while hopeful at the same time," said Jeanie Kahnke of the Muhammad Ali Center.
Shining a Light: Working Together to End Violence Against Women is an international photo exhibit that hopes to show worldwide solutions to the "global epidemic."
"Some of these pictures show what people are doing in communities from the ground to actually put an end to this," said Funk.
While some might think it only affects women and children, groups like MensWork want to show men's roles in preventing domestic violence.
"About forty percent of the people we see in non-residential are men," Miranda said.
Funk said there is a ripple effect on the community.
"Even though I may not necessarily know the men who are perpetrating this, we are operating in the same circles, so there are only two to three degrees of separation," said Funk.
"When you're in the locker room and you hear guys talk about women the way they talk about women when they're not around -- if that talk offends you, that's the time to step up and say something or do something as opposed to doing the guy thing and walking away," said Funk.
Experts say many believe it does not touch them.
"Do you know more than five women in your family? Do you interact and work with more than five. Dad, do you have a sister, do you have a mother?" Miranda said.
Miranda said there were also economic repercussions to domestic violence homicides.
"It costs the city $5 million for one domestic violence homicide -- in healthcare, in legal police services, in lost wages, in being able to take care of those kids in kinship care or foster care, so those are the costs of one homicide," Miranda said.
"We lose 12 - 13 just in Jefferson County a year, so 5 million times 12 a year."
Miranda said for those who may not be concerned with the victims, they should care about the way it affects the city.
"If money is what talks to you, then you need to pay attention to that," Miranda said.
While putting the issue out in the open may not guarantee results, those working to change the future say it's a step in the right direction.
"Perhaps by the time my 4-year-old child goes to college, perhaps she is going to have a safer campus than we already have," Funk said.
For information on how to get help, visit the Center for Women and Families website or contact local police at 502-574-LMPD.