WilCo: New family shelter needed

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The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) released a new report that shows the largest increase in the number of women killed in domestic violence homicides since the inception of the project 25 years ago. The women were killed in domestic violence murders in Texas by their husband, ex-husband, intimate partner, boyfriend or ex-boyfriend. 157 women were killed in Texas in 2015, the deadliest year for women in Texas. That’s a 19 percent increase, the largest number of fatalities documented by TCFV, since the inception of the project.

In 2014, 132 women were killed in domestic violence murders. 119 women were killed in 2013. 114 women were killed in 2012. 102 women were killed in 2011.  

Travis County had four domestic violence murders in 2015, twice the number from 2014. Williamson County had three domestic violence homicides in 2015. There were no homicides in 2014.  Bastrop County had two in 2015 and one in 2014 and Hays County remained the same with one in 2015 and one in 2014.

Harris County had the highest number of deaths in the state with 34 domestic violence murders, followed by Dallas with 13 domestic violence homicides followed by El Paso with nine murders, Bexar County with eight and Tarrant County with six.

Suzanne Bertran, a survivor of domestic violence, Patty Conner, CEO of Hope Alliance in Williamson County, the police departments from Round Rock, Taylor, Cedar Park, Leander and Liberty Hill, Rep. Tony Dale, County Commissioner Lisa Birkman, Dell Children’s Hospital and other Williamson County leaders joined the Texas Council on Family Violence CEO Gloria Terry at a news conference in Round Rock to unveil the annual report titled: “Honoring Texas Victims: Family Violence Fatalities.”

“157 innocent lives were lost and 157 families forever changed in senseless domestic violence murders in Texas,” said Gloria A. Terry, CEO of the Texas Council on Family Violence. “Three lives were lost in Williamson County and 10 lives were lost in the region. When a tragic loss like this happens, it reminds all of us, how dangerous domestic

violence can be to a family and a community and how much more work there is to be accomplished to ensure victims find help and safety before it’s too late.”

“Honoring Texas Victims: Family Violence Fatalities recognizes all Texas family violence victims lost in this tragic crime. We believe it is significant that statistics show 39 percent of women and families are turned away when they seek shelter because there is not enough room or resources,” Terry continued. “We hope the report will evoke deeper and more meaningful discussions about barriers and realities that affect the ability of women to escape danger within their relationships.  Domestic violence murders are knowable, identifiable and predictable. “

The news conference was held in Williamson County to bring attention to the increase in homicides in the fast growing county and to highlight the desperate need for a new shelter in Williamson County. The current shelter is small, outdated and 35 years old.  Land has been donated, but money is needed to build a new shelter.

“Research shows that shelters save lives,” said Patty Conner, CEO of Hope Alliance in Williamson County. “While I can’t say that the three women who were murdered in Williamson County would have survived if they sought help at the shelter, we do know when women seek help from organizations like our program at Hope Alliance, they are less likely to be killed. We currently have to turn away 45 families a month because we have no room at the inn. When women are in the most danger and we have no room, there can be devastating consequences.” 

Every person must know that they have a role to play in helping those who have been victimized as well as in ending family and sexual violence in our community.  Today, Hope Alliance is excited to announce our Allies in Hope program, an initiative that will raise the community’s awareness and consciousness of these senseless crimes.  The program recognizes the problem but also invites every business, medical facility, arts program, school, media outlet, and individual to be part of the solution.   

Allies in Hope identifies 11 ally communities. For instance, businesses are our allies in excellence; media are our allies in truth; medical facilities are our allies in health; faith-based organizations and churches are allies in comfort.  Every ally is pledging to do what they can to ensure 1) everyone knows family and sexual violence are crimes happening in our community – at alarming rates, 2) that victims have access to the critical resources they need to recover, and 3) hold perpetrators accountable. 

 

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