BELOIT, Wis. (WTVO) — Domestic violence is not just a Rockford problem, and it is not only a regional problem. The crisis is nationwide, according to experts.

“One of the biggest things that I want to stand on, and took an oath to do, is protect people,” said Beloit Police Chief Andre Sayles.

Sayles has been in charge of the Beloit Police Department for a little over a year and a half. He spent his whole law enforcement career serving that community, and he has watched one particular type of crime grow.

“It’s one of those crimes that we can’t get our hand around as much because the domestic violence is happening inside somebody’s home,” he said.

Sayles said that roughly a third of violent crime calls his department gets are domestic related, just like statistics from Rockford.

“One of the biggest things is a lot of people suffer in silence, and it takes about, on average, of 7 years for a person that’s a victim of domestic abuse to leave a domestic abuse situation,” Sayles said.

Sayles is not just tackling the problem from his official role as chief. He also joined the board of “Family Services,” a non-profit that has been around for more than 80 years. It operates five different programs, including “Defy Domestic Abuse Beloit” and “Sexual Assault Recovery.”

Kelsey Hood-Christenson is the director of survivor empowerment services.

“Our focus is on serving the most vulnerable individuals,” Hood-Christenson said. “So, while each program has kind of a different specialty or different emphasis, collectively as an agency and how we holistically look at everybody, is we try to make sure that we have high accessibility for the most vulnerable.”

Most of the group’s services are free and community-based.

“The experience of being victimized, experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, can feel like such an isolating experience and can create so many issues that you feel like you’re navigating alone,” Hood-Christenson said.

Family Services’ goal is to make sure that survivors do not feel so alone. Numbers are climbing, as Sexual Assault Recovery served 225 people last year.

Defy Domestic Abuse has had 150 so far this year.

“Not only are there more survivors seeking services, but the challenges they’re facing and the resources they need to help rebuild their lives, there’s also increasing challenges in accessing those,” Hood-Christenson said.

Family Services and Beloit PD work very closely on cases. Officers will do a lethality assessment on scene and get people connected to resources quickly.

Many are kids.

“Because they are victims too,” Sayles said. “They may not have been physically harmed at that time, but they see it, and that’s…they’re a victim of it as well, so we have to make sure we give them the resources as well.”

Defy Domestic Abuse is in the middle of its annual “Holiday Gift Program.” Clients served in the last year turn in a “wish list.” Staff members then reach out to members of the community to adopt a family, or Defy will collect donations to go out and buy gifts.

If you are a survivor of domestic or sexual violence, visit our Stateline Strong page for resources.