Boarded windows, doors locked from the outside. There was no escape for Jennifer and her son. For six months, the person she thought had loved her – the person she had loved – physically, sexually, and verbally abused her and refused to let her leave the house.
We at Family Services of Southeast Texas were profoundly saddened by the unspeakable violence that occurred in Sutherland Springs on Sunday. The public is still learning about the shooter’s past but we do know that there was a history of domestic violence. Family Services and Texas Council on Family Violence staff recently discussed the link between mass shootings and domestic violence with 12 News:
Thirty-two domestic violence programs in Texas were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The Family Services Women and Children’s Shelter was closed for 16 days and is still undergoing lots of repairs.
Countless survivors – both those in shelter, and those without – face unique vulnerabilities during this disaster. For those who have fled abuse in their homes to seek safety, the trauma of leaving is now compounded by the trauma of dealing with uncertainty, devastation, and disruption from the disaster.
Recently, a reporter from Public Radio International paid us a visit to hear what it’s like to be in the middle of a crisis and then have to deal with a natural disaster. Please listen to her piece here:
If you’ve ever been to the Family Services Women and Children’s Shelter you know that it is housed in a 60-year-old former nursing home complex. By its very nature, it is just very institutional looking.
At our most recent Southeast Texas Domestic Violence Task Force Panel Discussion, the experts focused on prevention. As victims advocates, we so often hear “Break the Silence… Break the Silence… BREAK THE SILENCE!”
That really is the main problem. To highlight that fact, we started the Panel event by watching a true story about a young mother named Amy that was murdered by her husband. Throughout the description of events, the audience is confronted with the sobering reality that Amy’s friends, family, coworkers, and even police and healthcare workers knew she was being abused.
And he still murdered her. At the end, the audience was left wondering what could have been done differently. And the Panel was ready with answers.
So often, we hear “why didn’t she just leave?”
Sgt. Yvette Borrero of BPD points out that “most women will take eight beatings before they leave.” It’s a sad statistic, but it’s true. At the Family Services Women and Children’s Shelter, we often see the same individual more than once.