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Expert: Children exposed to domestic violence forever scarred

Son stabbed, small children at home during two separate incidents this week

SAN ANTONIO – In less than a week, two separate cases of alleged family violence have left three parents dead and their children traumatized.

Marta Pelaez, president and CEO of Family Violence Prevention Services and its Battered Women and Children's Shelter, said the children could be forever scarred.

"No child deserves to grow up knowing that daddy killed mommy," Pelaez said.

Both incidents resulted in a mother's death, allegedly at the hands of their husband.

James Keith, spokesman for the Bexar County Sheriff's Office, said two small children were in their parent's townhouse in West Bexar County when Jonathan Geryk, 24, allegedly strangled his wife, Katrina.

However, he said it's unclear what, if anything, the kids may have seen that night.

Then, Wednesday evening in Northeast Bexar County, a 15-year-old allegedly was stabbed by his father, Filiberto Lopez Mendoza, when the teenager tried to stop his mother from being stabbed. Later, Lopez allegedly shot and killed his wife Magdalena before taking his own life. 

Keith said the teen son remains in serious condition at San Antonio Military Medical Center.

Pelaez said both cases have left her feeling "very angry, very sad."

She said unfortunately, "It's the cyclical nature of domestic violence. Here we go again."

Pelaez said immediate intervention is critical for these children to somehow help them begin the healing process.

She said otherwise, they could act out now or later on life, manifested by the anger and unanswered questions they must have.

"It's very difficult to recover, very difficult to recover from that point on," Pelaez said. "That's abusive, exposing a child to all that is abusive in itself."

But rather than blaming their mother, Pelaez said her agency is now working with Child Protective Services to hopefully avoid that child being put in CPS custody.  

Pelaez urges women in abusive relationships to understand being afraid of the person they love is a warning sign.

"To me, this is a clear test," she said.

Pelaez said they need to call her agency's 24-hour bilingual hotline, 210-733-8810, for help and advice.