85ºF

Battered Women's Shelter beds have been filled for about 3 months

160 women, children have been at shelter every day, higher number than usual

SAN ANTONIO – For the past three to four months, the beds at the Battered Women's Shelter has been filled. That means about 160 women and children have been there every day. 

"My husband violently raped me in front of my 4-year-old daughter, while she was sleeping. I cried out to God to help me, and he really did. He walked me away from that situation," said a survivor now living in the shelter. For her safety, her identity is being concealed.

After months of counseling, the mother of three now credits herself with the bravery to walk away from 18 years of alleged abuse.

"My husband broke me down as a person, as a woman, and it feels good to stick up for myself and for what's right," she said.

The woman said she tried to leave twice before this. It's less than the average of five to seven times, which she understands, given the isolation and control abusers have over their victims.

"He started out abusing my verbally and physically. Then he would tell me that I was worthless and I was lazy and I was fat, and I am none of those things. No one should ever feel that way," she said.

Her heart broke last month when she heard about Shannon Gomez, also a San Antonio mother. Gomez's on and off again boyfriend of five years is accused of stabbing her to death at an apartment on the city's north side.

"I could have died," the survivor said. "And I'm just grateful for my life."

At the shelter, she has more women than ever to whom she can relate. One hundred-sixty people a day is more than the shelter typically holds. Administrators say the Bexar County area has a bad abuse problem, but with more awareness, more people could be reporting violence too.

"They don't have to stick around situations like that. They have a choice and they are not worthless. How they feel matters," she said. "I'm just glad I realized this before it was too late because I have a future now. I'm going to go to college to be a counselor so I'm just really happy and excited for life."

The shelter doesn't ever technically "fill up" since no one is turned away. However, the past few months have been an eye opener about the need for support. It's a big issue to take a look at, especially during October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The shelter is under the umbrella of the Family Violence Prevention Services, which provide counseling for both adults and children, legal aid, and other services. To find out more, call (210) 733-8810, visit the office at 7911 Broadway Street San Antonio or visit the website at http://www.fvps.org/.


About the Author: