SAN ANTONIO – The COVID-19 pandemic has some victims of domestic violence suffering in silence, but you can be their life-line.
KSAT12 will be airing a KSAT Community Domestic Violence Town Hall, Friday from 2 to 3 p.m. along with a resource phone bank with San Antonio Metro Health.
A panel of experts will answer questions live and viewers can learn the signs of abuse, how to report it and where to seek help.
“We know that violence increases during times of stress,” said Dr. Colleen Bridger, assistant city manager, and CCDV co-chair. “During Hurricane Harvey in 2019, the stress associated with disaster increased both child abuse and domestic violence. Reduced access to resources, increased stress due to job loss, and disconnection from social support associated with increased violence in Harris County families.”
“Support networks, jobs, and daily routines have all disappeared with COVID,” Bridger said. “There is never an excuse for violence, but we know that the stress families feel right now can push people over the edge.”
If you need to leave an abusive partner, reach out to these groups:
- Family Violence Prevention Services, call 210-733-8810 anytime to speak to a crisis intervention specialist.
- SAPD, call 210-207-7273 and the advocates with the Crisis Response Teams can help you make a plan.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline, call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224 (confidential and free). If you are unable to speak safely, you can log onto the National Domestic Violence Hotline website or text LOVEIS to 22522.
- Check this list of other resources available.
Impact of domestic violence in San Antonio
As violence escalates over time, there are a few key indicators that the relationship may turn deadly, women who have been strangled are seven times more likely to be killed by their partner.
The presence of guns in the house is associated with five times greater risk of domestic violence homicide.
Threats of suicide as roughly 1/3 of domestic violence murders nationally are homicide-suicide.
In one study, 75% of women who were killed by partners had attempted to leave in the previous year.
Signs of domestic abuse, provided by Metro Health:
Domestic violence is always about power and control.
Abusive relationships can occur in any family, at any age, in straight and GLBTQ relationships, and all income and educational levels.
The types of abuse are varied and include emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse. The mental image of abuse is often a black eye or broken arm, leading people not to seek help in the early stages. Physical abuse is common, but so is emotional abuse, including shaming, belittling and coercion. Emotional abuse is invisible to the eye, but very painful and echoes over the lifetime of survivors.
Abusive relationships don’t start abusive.
When we ask survivors about the beginning of relationships, they often describe a love bomb of very intense romance. The hallmark of abusive relationships is a progressive increase in control and violence. Often this starts as controlling what the other person wears, when they go out, who they see.
Early signs of domestic abuse can include jealousy, possessiveness and manipulation. After the relationship is established, manipulation starts (i.e., because I love you so much, I need to know where you are at all times) and becomes progressively worse over time.
Abusers isolate their victims from support systems of family and friends over time. If a victim does decide to leave, they often believe they have no one left. We want to encourage friends and family who know about abusive relationships not to continue to reach out.
It is hard and heartbreaking to watch someone in an abusive relationship, but staying connected can make all the difference.
Domestic violence-related homicides among women in SA, information provided by SAPD
Since 2015, murders by an intimate partner has been increasing in the United States and Texas.
The 2018 Texas Council on Family Violence Honoring Victims Report shared the stories of the 174 women killed by male intimate partners in 2018, the highest number of women killed in Texas in the last ten years.
San Antonio mirrors this trend with murders of women by men in domestic violence-related homicides increasing from 2015-2018, with a decrease in 2019. In 2018, Bexar County had the highest rate of women murdered by male partners of any Texas county. The numbers for 2019 are not finalized, but the decrease in 2019 is hopeful.
From January to April 2020, family violence calls to SAPD were up 16% compared to the same period in 2019. However, during the Stay Home orders, family violence-related calls to SAPD fell sharply to be 13% lower compared to the same period in 2019.
These data suggest two things. First, we can’t interpret an increase in calls to mean an increase in violence. An increase in calls can also represent more people seeking help, which is a core goal of the City of San Antonio and CCDV.
Second, the sharp drop off in calls during COVID is concerning because there is no reason to believe people were experiencing less violence but may have been less likely to seek help.
To learn more about domestic violence, visit San Antonio Metro Health’s website.
KSAT Community operates in partnership with University Health System, Energy Transfer and Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union.