Gasps, sighs, and sounds of exasperation were all that could be heard in the room of 70+ people. The documentary they were watching was moving and tragic. It wasn’t surprising to see jaws agape, heads shaking in disbelief.
But for the seasoned law enforcement and victims advocates in the room, “Telling Amy’s Story” was full of truths that were all too familiar. You see, as tragic and heart-wrenching as the timeline of Amy’s abuse is; as devastating as her eventual death at the hands of her husband is; it’s a story that (sadly) plays out over and over in Southeast Texas and across the nation.
During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Family Services and the Lamar University Chapter of Alpha Chi Omega gathered the community together. But we didn’t talk about statistics and skim over the top of the issue like so many awareness events do. “Awareness events are great and they are necessary. But prevention is what we need to talk about the most,” said Sgt. Yvette Borrero of the Beaumont Police Department.
So, with prevention being the focus of the event, Family Services began with the movie screening. The hour-long tale of the abuse and eventual homicide of Amy Holman-McGee ends with the lead detective on the case asking one hanging question: “How can we change the ending of this story for another victim?” How can we make sure that our sister, coworker, and friend doesn’t end up a domestic violence statistic?
Family Services assembled select members of the Southeast Texas Domestic Violence Task Force to answer these questions and to give the audience some practical ways prevent domestic violence in the lives of those they care about.
“I believe some people in the audience tonight were changed by what they heard,” said Angie Kannada of Family Services. “We hope they left not only more informed, but also empowered to make a difference in our community.”
To learn more about domestic violence prevention, please continue to Part 2 of this series entitled “Why doesn’t she just leave?”
The Domestic Violence Task Force panel included:
Randy Shelton, Judge of the 279th District Court
Tom Kelley, Assistant District Attorney
Misty Craver, Director of the Jefferson County Victims’ Assistance Center
Sgt. Yvette Borrero of the Family Violence Unit of the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Beaumont Police Department
Sgt. Monica Ryan who specializes in sexual assault and family violence cases for the Lamar University Police Department
Bonnie Loiodice, Lamar University Social Work Professor and former Director of the Family Services Women and Children’s Shelter
Rick de la Torre, Family Services Battering Intervention and Prevention and Anger Management Program Director, and former Jefferson County Probation and Parole Officer
Johnnie Stewart, Special Investigations Program Director for the Department of Family Protective Services, and former Houston Police Officer.