CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Three holiday trees were lit Monday night in the lobby of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police headquarters to remember the victims of domestic violence.
As the names of 56 new victims from across the state were read aloud, the thoughts of the survivors present and those who try to help them turned to last weekend's tragedy in Kansas City.
On Saturday, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his 22-year-old girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins and then turned the gun on himself, taking his own life in the parking lot of the Chiefs' training facility.
Among those at the ceremony in Charlotte was Loretta Caldwell.
She was the foster mother to Tigest Yemane, a 23-year-old immigrant from Ethiopia who was killed in Charlotte by her boyfriend in November of 2009.
When Caldwell heard the story of what happened in Kansas City it brought back painful memories.
She wishes Yemane had followed one rule, get out.
"The first sign is your sign to leave and go seek help," Caldwell said.
Mecklenburg County is about to open a new shelter for domestic violence victims.
The current shelter housed 565 women this past year but had to turn away many others because there was no space.
Kelly Coyne is the Director of Safe Alliance, the group that runs the shelter.
"It is so important for the county to have the number of domestic violence beds it needs so women won't have to return home simply because there is no space," Coyne said.
District Attorney Andrew Murray has set up a new unit to focus solely on domestic violence cases that Murray admits can sometimes be tough to prosecute.
"Victims are sometimes unfortunately reluctant which is why it takes somebody to work with the victims and gain their trust," said Murray.
If some good can come from the tragedy in Kansas City, the hope of those at the ceremony is that more attention will be paid to domestic violence and its victims.
"No doubt about it,” said Murray, "this puts the national spotlight on an epidemic throughout this country."