Tragedy in Sutherland Springs a Disturbing Reminder of the Prevalence of Domestic Violence

Just days after Domestic Violence Awareness Month came to a close, a tragic incident, stemming from domestic violence, claimed the lives of 26 people and wounded 20 others in Sutherland Springs this past weekend. The occurrence serves as a disturbing reminder of the importance of raising awareness of domestic violence, and highlights strides still necessary to put an end to such violence. Weighing in on this tragic event, Sheryl Johnson, Director of the Family Violence Center (FVC) at Northwest Assistance Ministries (NAM), shares her thoughts:

The quiet beauty of a Sunday morning spent in worship was violently interrupted on November 5, 2017. While details of this senseless act of violence are still under investigation, one emerging detail is the connection to domestic violence. It has been reported that the perpetrator, previously arrested on domestic violence charges, was seeking out his former in-laws on Sunday morning.

Sadly, this is only but one act of domestic violence, which happens far too often. According to the Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV), “in Texas in the last year, 146 women lost their lives at the hands of a male intimate partner, and an additional 24 children and adults were killed in those 146 incidents.”

While some incidents do take place in the quiet of a person’s home or car, others occur in the workplace, and some, like Sunday’s happen in view of a community. All are hurtful, many are dangerous, and others become deadly.

Batterers strive for power and control in their relationship, and rarely let others in their lives see their genuine selves. A batterer may be the man down the street, a quiet friend, the outgoing worker, or the salesperson at the store. They are often the ones others would not suspect to be abusers. On occasion, there are obvious warning signs – demanding behaviors, physical violence against others, or explosive rants. Other times they are much more subtle – controlling things around them, having fearful family members, minor family injuries, or a stern countenance.

We must all develop an awareness of this type of violence by recognizing even the slightest indication of disrespectful behavior. We must learn to stand up to the person bullying his family in public. We must find the words to tell a friend that their behavior is inappropriate. We must teach our children to identify unsafe and unhealthy dating traits. We must find ways as community leaders to strive for higher expectations. We must find a way to stop the violence and ease the hurting.

If you or someone you know needs to talk about violence in a relationship, please call NAM’s Family Violence Center crisis hotline at (281) 885-4673. The Hotline is available 24 hours a day and all services are free. A trained advocate can provide guidance on personal safety, legal options, or, even how to help a friend.”

The Family Violence Center is dedicated to breaking the cycle of violence by assisting victims of domestic and sexual violence through crisis intervention, long-term support services, and through community violence and awareness prevention education. In the fiscal year 2016-2017, the FVC received more than 7,400 hotline calls from victims in crisis and individuals seeking assistance. They also offer year-round programs, workshops and different events that bring awareness to the domestic violence problem in the area.

About Northwest Assistance Ministries

Northwest Assistance Ministries is a non-profit, community-based social service agency that strives to meet basic human needs through Neighbors Helping Neighbors. NAM provides assistance in areas such as food, shelter, health, education and domestic violence awareness and intervention. During its last fiscal year, NAM touched the lives of more than 129,898 people through its many programs and services.

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