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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka’s mayor says experiencing domestic violence firsthand gives a different perspective on the work being done by her newly-formed task force.

The Mayor’s Task Force Against Domestic Violence announced last week includes representatives from programs and agencies, including the Topeka Police Department and the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

YWCA Director Michelle McCormick said the task force will work on looking at policies and best practices.

“We’ve asked for people from each of those agencies to be someone who can exercise influence over policies and procedures,” said McCormick, a longtime Topeka domestic violence victim advocate.

Mayor Michelle De La Isla said she experienced abuse by her ex-husband for seven years before realizing she needed to leave the relationship permanently. She said she wishes more people understood the gradual progression of domestic violence.

McCormick said having De La Isla lead the task force will give the group a “victim-centered focus” for positive change. She said of the 30 homicides in Topeka last year, six of them were classified as domestic violence-related.

“Domestic violence homicides are preventable if we have some key things in place,” she said. “Our ultimate goal is to decrease domestic violence incidents with high risk.”

McCormick said the task force hopes to achieve that goal by updating individual domestic violence protocols used by agencies with domestic violence caseloads.


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal,