BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)– One year after the late Myesha Davis lost her life to domestic violence, loved ones gathered for a prayer and balloon release in her memory.

Those gathered also wanted to honor the memories of others who’d lost their lives to domestic violence.

One of the event supporters was Davis’s twin sister, Trinicia Ricks.

Ricks describes her sister as, “Beautiful, supportive and fun.”

According to police, in 2021 Davis was shot and killed by her fiancé, who then took his own life. Ricks says the incident happened while her sister’s children were in bed with their mother.

Since then, Ricks has been advocating for stricter gun laws and spreading awareness against domestic violence. She is an advocate with Mom Demand Action, a group that aims to restructure gun laws. She also offers discounted photoshoots for mothers and children at her local photography business.

“I pray anybody in this situation can say I’m worth more than this,” she said. “Love is not pain, love is not violence, love it not pride. It’s caring, it’s nurturing.”

As of October of this year, there have been 21 domestic violence related deaths in East Baton Rouge Parish, according to the Iris Domestic Violence Center. This includes one murder-suicide and the death of a child.

Experts expect the number of domestic abuses to jump towards the end of the year.

“The concern is always as we get close to the holidays, and behaviors and tensions escalate, so do then the abusers in the home,” said Patti Freeman, Executive Director, Iris Domestic Violence Center.

The Iris Domestic Violence Center is reporting an over 400 percent increase in protective orders since the start of the pandemic. The center has also seen an uptick in gun orders against abusers.

Annie Richie says they have enough space for shelter, but survivors may face an 18-month waitlist for affordable housing.

“Housing is one of their biggest barriers to being able to escape that situation because it’s expensive, it’s it’s not readily available,” said Anne Richie, legal services, IRIS Domestic Violence Center.

The Iris Domestic Violence Center ask loved ones to look out for common red flags:

  • Noticeable separation from peers and family
  • Asking for permission for basic needs
  • Financial control for basic needs like groceries
  • Children shows fear, anxiety or a great deal of emotion

As Ricks continues to advocate for survivors of abuse, she has a message for men and women experiencing hard times.

“You’re strong enough to get out. You’re strong enough. Your life is worth more than our relationship,” she said.

Those who are seeking help can contact the Iris Center by calling 225-389-3001 or visiting here.

Additional resources are available here.