Surviving hurricanes, domestic violence

The following article is part one of a five-week series focusing on raising awareness about domestic violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and we hope to educate our community on this very serious issue. One in three women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Locally, the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center has been serving victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and child abuse since 1978. Last year, HCWC served 1,872 victims of abuse (face-to-face) from Hays and Caldwell counties. Some 1,050 of those were victims of domestic violence.

With Hurricane Harvey blasting into our state followed by multiple storms and earthquakes not so far from home, we have been buffeted by constant news coverage bringing feelings of terror and sadness. To some degree, we have all experienced trauma which is defined is as “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” We have witnessed the damage and devastation that reminded us of our recent Memorial Day and Halloween floods. Many in our community have likely had flashbacks to that devastating feeling of uncertainty and fear along with our Houston neighbors. We witnessed people lose homes, vehicles, personal belongings and some even lost their lives. It all floods back to us.

I work with victims of domestic violence and know the terror they experience. Domestic violence survivors endure trauma not just once during a national disaster event, but often the trauma is inflicted daily. It can even occur repeatedly for years. The damage is similar in that domestic violence survivors sometimes lose their homes, vehicles, personal belongings and in some situations, they also lose their lives. In fact, according to the Texas Council of Family Violence’s annual report “Honoring Texas Victims: Family Violence Fatalities in 2015,” 158 women with ages ranging as young as 16 years old to 93 years, were killed by their male intimate partner in Texas; one victim killed was from San Marcos. While loss of life is the greatest and most valuable price to pay, we know that hundreds suffer in silence. In 2016, HCWC served 1,050 victims of family violence from Hays and Caldwell counties; 326 of those were provided 6,257 nights of shelter at the McCoy Family Shelter, most of which were children who were forced to leave their homes in fear of their lives and often with little or no personal belongings.

Victims of natural disasters face devastation and we all want to help, but there is no shame in being a victim of a massive natural disaster. HCWC hopes to serve as a reminder that devastation left by domestic violence is one that not only is happening in big cities but here in San Marcos, Wimberley, Buda, Lockhart, Kyle, Luling, Dripping Springs, Martindale. There are no trucks of supplies pouring in for these victims of domestic violence, no FEMA offices being set up, no Cajun Navy boats showing up to help. Survivors of domestic violence are suffering in obscurity. Their families are falling apart and they are often filled with shame. There are far fewer resources stepping in to come to their aid. It is our community’s ongoing commitment and support that will make a difference to local survivors of abuse as they work to rebuild their lives.

There are ways that YOU can become involved and help end domestic violence in YOUR community. It can be as simple as joining HCWC in spreading education and awareness about abuse by following us on social media and sharing educational content with your friends by using the handle: @HCWCenter on FaceBook, Twitter or Instagram or by subscribing to our email list. You can also visit our educational website www.StopTheHurt.org for more education on abuse issues and resources. For more information about services, please call HCWC at 512-396-3404 or visit www.hcwc.org

Melissa G. Rodriguez is HCWC’s director of Community Partnerships.

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666