Bexar County Family Justice Center faces new challenges in pandemic

The center has been forced to adapt in the era of COVID-19

SAN ANTONIO – Kelly Milowski was forced to face a difficult reality after her daughter, 27-year-old Miranda Milwoski, died in May after being stabbed multiple times.

Miranda Milwoski’s ex-boyfriend, Michael Gonzales, 27, was charged with her murder.

“I still wait for her to come home. No parent should have to go through that,” Kelly Milwoski said.

Kelly is hopeful her daughter’s death will inspire others to get out of what she describes as violent relationships.

“They’re not always aware of what’s out there for them,” she said.

The Bexar County Family Justice Center has been helping victims of domestic violence since 2005, but COVID-19 has brought new challenges.

College interns who assisted with various programs were pulled due to the pandemic. The walk-in center has also limited the number of clients inside.

Crystal Chandler, executive director of the Bexar County Family Justice Center, said the virus forced the organization to pivot. The majority of services are now offered virtually, including a new digital protective order system.

“They can fill out those applications from any device,” Chandler said.

People who seek a protective order visit the website and fill out an application. Once it is received, an advocate will reach out to determine if the case is one the District Attorney’s office can file.

Chandler said there have been more applications filed this year. Since the start of the pandemic, 1,500 applications have been received.

Chandler also noted there has been a 27% increase in calls to the center.

She believes COVID-19 has led to more stress, which can lead to a violent situation. However, Chandler said there is still help and hope.

“That should in no way inhibit someone from reaching out to the center,” she said.

Kelly agrees and said the first step is leaving.

″Look at what happens to people who don’t speak up, that don’t get out of relationships,” she said.

The services at the Bexar County Family Justice Center are free, and the county has provided funds that will allow for additional staff to meet the demand.

About the Author:

Steven Cavazos is a traffic anchor and general assignments reporter in the weekday mornings at KSAT 12.