Domestic violence: ‘It’s closer than you think’

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : October 13, 2012

East Texas Crisis Center

Monitor Photo/Michael V. Hannigan
Hands are raised as East Texas Crisis Center director Donna Johnson asks how many have been touched by family violence during a special ceremony Tuesday on the Henderson County Courthouse Square.

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

ATHENS–Donna Johnson started out the 2013 Domestic Violence Awareness proclamation signing ceremony Tuesday afternoon with a simple request: “I want everyone here, if they themselves or a family member have been affected by family violence, to please raise your hands and keep your hands raised.”
The East Texas Crisis Center Director of Outreach then asked for anyone who had a friend, or associate at work affected by domestic violence to do the same thing. Then she asked for anyone who knew someone who had been affected by domestic violence to do the same thing.
By that time, it looked like every one of the nearly 100 gathered on the courthouse lawn had a hand raised.
“Domestic violence in Henderson County is so prevalent,” she said.
October is about becoming aware of the dangers of domestic violence and the resources available in the community for victims.
“(Someone) just might have a loved one, a business partner, a best friend, a family member who is suffering from abuse,” Johnson said. “If they just a know a little information about where to reach out in our community, it just might save someone’s life.”
Henderson County District Attorney R. Scott McKee put some numbers on the problem. He said that 223,000 Texans called domestic violence hotlines in 2012.
“That is almost a quarter of a million people,” he said. “And think about those who don’t call the hotline; those who don’t have the courage, or haven’t met one of these wonderful volunteers out here.”
McKee said the East Texas Crisis Center has helped 242 new victims of domestic violence so far in 2012, and continues to help 218 current clients.
“Those are our neighbors,” he said. “Our family members. People that our kids play football, baseball, T-ball with. It’s closer than you think.”
Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders said, “It is bad enough being in an area where you don’t feel safe, or where have danger happen to you, out in the public. But when it happens to you in your own home, it is a very big problem.”
“I want to thank each one of you standing here today, because your mission and your goal is to solve those problems for people that suffer from this,” he said. “It is very, very commendable. I just want you to know that the county appreciates everything that you do.”
Victim advocates say help is needed. Courtney Sanchez, a domestic violence survivor said, “After having to make this decision to leave, survivors are often greeted by the frightening realization that the shelter from which they are seeking refuge is full and cannot take them and their children in because there are no vacancies at which time they are placed on a waiting list.”
If you are the victim of domestic violence – or you want to help be a part of the solution – check out the following resources:
• East Texas Crisis Center hotline: 800-333-0358, www.etcc.org/,
• National Domestic Violence hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233),
• Texas Council on Family Violence: www.tcfv.org/.