October marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but the issue deserves our attention throughout the year.
“It’s not a private problem. It’s a crime of the state and should recognized as such,” One Safe Place President Ken Shetter told the Star-Telegram Editorial Board.
Tarrant County has one of the highest rates of domestic violence-related homicide in Texas and averages about 50,000 calls related to domestic violence a year.
Those are significant and scary numbers.
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Domestic violence has no clear-cut solutions, but many organizations are getting smarter at helping the victims. One Safe Place is one such organization.
The comprehensive agency allows victims to find all facets of help under one roof at the One Safe Place Family Justice Center. They wanted to provide better information, making getting help more practical, safer and effective.
Any victims can go there to legal advice, counseling, immigration help, spiritual support, healthcare, shelter and law enforcement access, among other necessary aspects for victims and their children get the support and help needed.
“When you serve victims appropriately, you are reducing future incidents of violence,” Shetter said.
Domestic violence doesn’t usually exist in a vacuum or happen “just that one time.” It spider-webs, affecting more than one household or one victim.
Just look at what happened in Plano last month. A divorced man, with an alleged history of domestic violence, crashed his ex-wife’s party and fatally shot her and seven others.
One Safe Place also focuses on children who witness domestic violence as victim s in their own right.
We are just chasing our tail if we don’t fundamentally do something about this, Shetter said, explaining how not helping children during this traumatic period could cause a new generation of domestic violence.
Shetter says One Safe Place’s goal is to see no domestic violence-related homicides. It works with on-site partners like SafeHaven of Tarrant County, MHMR Tarrant County, Fort Worth Police Department and Our Future Children Inc. to work to make this happen.
But Tarrant County residents can also help — and it doesn’t require a donation or volunteer hours, though those are always appreciated.
It only takes a conscious effort to make sure when discussing domestic violence that we speak about victims and their situations with respect.
Misinformation and stereotypes present and can cause a stigmatized environment, which could prevent a victim from seeking help.
As Shetter said, domestic violence is a crime — not discipline, byproduct of drinking, nor any other excuse we have heard through the years — and should be treated as such. And its victims deserve our help and support.