Like freckles, left-handedness, and curly hair, domestic violence knows no boundaries. It thrives in affluent homes, comfortable suburban cul-de-sacs, rural midwestern farms, high-rise apartments, and auspicious public housing. Every day, women of all ages, races, and social status are pummeled with words and fists and held captive with invisible shackles. Domestic violence afflicts working women, stay-at-home moms, PTA presidents, attachment parenters, and the neighbor next door who drove your child to pre-K this morning. Domestic violence has ended the lives of teachers, physicians, nurses, counselors, bus drivers, and the cafeteria worker who served your child lunch last fall.
San Antonio recently lost a renowned physician from University Health Care Center. Dr. Casey Mitchell Drawert was shot and killed by her husband this past March. She was reportedly found in a closet with a gunshot wound to her head, and later died. Her husband died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Two young children were left without their mother.
How prevalent is domestic violence? Consider these facts:
In Texas, MORE than one of three women are victims of domestic violence.
Over 57% of Texans know someone who has been in an abusive relationship.
In Texas, 185,817 reported instances of family violence occurred in 2014. These are only the reported instances, and 13,227 of these were in Bexar County alone—a more than 21% increase from 2013.
According to Texas Council on Family Violence, Bexar County’s Battered Women and Children’s Shelter has the highest number of residents on a daily basis of ALL shelters in the state. They hold this status year after year.
Only 1/3 of domestic violence cases are reported to law enforcement.
Given the above numbers, there were approximately over a half million cases of domestic violence in the United States in 2014 and almost 40,000 in Texas alone.
In the time it took to read the above facts, seven to eight women were battered in the U.S.
Taking more of a national view, consider these facts:
- About 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. That’s 100 people every five minutes or nearly 10 million women and men each year.
- Nationally, one of every four women will be victims of domestic violence in her lifetime.
- During their lifetime, one in seven women will have been stalked by an intimate partner to the point of extreme fear that they or someone close to them might be harmed or killed.
- Nationwide, domestic violence hotlines receive 20,000 calls daily. Not everyone reaches out or dials for help.
- The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.
(Above facts from National Coalition Against Domestic Violence [NCADV].)
These numbers are staggering. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you or someone you know has experienced domestic violence.
We can list numbers and facts until we’re numb and unfazed. Alamo City Moms Blog is dedicated to representing and reaching out to all moms—with education and resources.
What can you do when you believe someone you love is in an abusive relationship? What are the warning signs? First, trust your instincts—you know, that niggling feeling in your gut or the voice in the back of your mind that won’t stop nudging? Intuition is powerful and on target. Listen.
Not everyone comes to work with a black eye mumbling, “I walked into the door last night.” Physical abuse markings can be strategically hidden with clothes and make-up. Emotional abuse doesn’t show up in a mirror or need a Band-aid.
If you think someone you know may be abused, here are some signs from loveisrespect.org:
They may have a partner that puts them down, calls them names, and/or is jealous when they speak with others.
Do they often make excuses for their partners behavior, or even apologize for it?
Are plans frequently canceled at the last minute with excuses that don’t ring true?
Does their partner always “check up” with calls or texts, demanding to know where they’ve been or who they’re with?
Do fights escalate to breaking things or hitting?
Do they worry nonstop about making their partner angry or upset?
Have they given up things they enjoyed, like hanging out with friends?
If their appearance (weight, etc) changed, it could be signs of depression and/or abuse.
Do they have unexplainable injuries, or injuries with explanations that don’t make sense?
More warning signs of an abusive relationship can be found here.
You’ve seen the signs, you’re listening to your gut, now what do you do? Here are a few suggestions:
- Don’t be afraid to reach out.
- Be supportive. Acknowledge their feelings and respect their decisions.
- Help them recognize abuse is not “normal” and it’s NOT their fault. Sometimes they’ve been in the relationship so long they believe all their relationships will be this way and they can’t have it any other way.
- Don’t put blame, shame, or guilt on the victim.
- Focus on your friend, not the abusive partner. Keep communication lines open. They may stay with the abuser for awhile—if you’re talking badly about the abuser, it could hinder the communication in your relationship.
- Do NOT contact the abuser or speak badly of the abuser publicly or on social media. It may make things worse for your friend and your relationship with her.
- Connect them to resources in the community for information, support, and guidance.
- Help them develop a safety plan.
- An abused woman may leave seven times before finally leaving for good. It can be confusing, frustrating, and heartbreaking and to witness. There are many obstacles to leaving, from denial to cultural beliefs and religious beliefs regarding relationships and roles and more.
- Lastly, remember: you cannot rescue your friend. You can be there for them, but they have to make the decision to act.
Below you’ll find national and local San Antonio and Texas resources for individuals in an abusive relationship.
Local San Antonio Resources
Bexar County Family Justice Center—There are many resources for Bear County, from crisis intervention to legal help to emergency shelter for victims and children.
Rape Crisis Center—Their mission is “To provide excellent care for those impacted by sexual violence: direct survivors and their friends and family.” They offer crisis intervention, counseling, client advocacy (including shelter, housing and legal assistance), and education. All services are 100% free and confidential.
Family Violence Prevention Services/Battered Women and Children’s Shelter—24-hour Crisis Hotline: (210) 733-8810
Texas Council on Family Violence—lists state-wide resources in your area
National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 or TTY (800) 787-3224 or chat online. As a precaution, victims should know that computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. NDV suggests that if you’re afraid internet usage may be monitored, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 or TTY (800) 787-3224. More safety considerations for victims.
Mission: Confidence 2016 – San Antonio native, Alexandra Dempsey, celebrates her 24th birthday organizing her community to lift up victims of domestic violence. In collaboration with Family Violence Preventative Services, she is collecting deodorant for women in the San Antonio Battered Women’s Shelter. After learning women often leave abusive relationships with the clothing on their backs and personal items, like deodorant, are in need – after all, we know how debilitating it is to leave the house without it. Alex believes if we all work together in small ways, we can change the world in big ways. Check out Alex’s page, maybe you’ll be inspired to donate, too. Watch Mission: Confidence 2016, here.