FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Advocates in North Texas are warning about a sharp rise in the number of women killed by their partners since the pandemic began.

“She’s passionate, spunky, brilliant,” said Sally Atiyeh as she described her daughter, Atiyeh Chatmon. “She has always been mommy’s mini twin and daddy’s little girl.”

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In March, the 23-year-old was shot and killed outside her workplace.

Atiyeh Chatmon (credit: Chatmon family)

Police said her ex-boyfriend, Michael Walker, pulled the trigger.

Michael Sherrod Walker, Jr. mugshot. (Credit: Tarrant County Corrections Center)

Atiyeh was the first of now 16 women this year in Tarrant County who were killed as a result of intimate partner violence. That number is double last year’s number. Sally told us she had no idea her daughter was in danger.

“It’s tough because there are unintended consequences of really good intentioned things,” said Katheryn Jacob, the CEO of SafeHaven of Tarrant County.

She said the isolation as a result of the pandemic can help keep abuse in the shadows,

“Calling for a stay-at-home order, I see how that helps the public health, but it certainly negatively impacts survivors in our community,” she said.

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Calls to SafeHaven’s hotline have gone up 30% since the pandemic started. Jacob said she’s concerned that getting out is getting harder for the victims. The nonprofit helps get women to safety, but they’ve seen an increasing number of no-shows at pick up points.

Jacob said she hopes victims keep in mind that help is always available.

“There are so many people that care about you in this community, and it doesn’t have to be this way,” she said. “So, if you can get to us, we can assure your safety in the time you are in our care.”

It’s help Sally wishes her daughter could have received.

“Tell as many people as you know about your situation and let them help you,” Sally said. “You exposing your abuser could potentially save your life, and the life of the next person they may encounter.”

Help is available 24/7 at 1-877-701-SAFE (7233).

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