SAN ANTONIO – In 2019, there were 21 family violence-related murders in San Antonio. This year, San Antonio has already surpassed 2019′s statistics with 29 family violence murders.
The San Antonio Police Department has responded to 79,748 family violence-related calls this year. Even with COVID-related restrictions, the SAPD Crisis Response Teams have made 2,213 home visits.
The city has publicly prioritized domestic violence this year to deal with this raging epidemic. Still, the spike in abuse during the pandemic kicked the response into an even higher gear.
“COVID created the perfect storm of conditions. With people being at home, we also saw an increase in the purchase of weapons and all the financial stress,” said Jenny Hixon, the leader of Metro Health’s new Violence Prevention Division.
The division has put together the first Domestic Violence Symposium ever hosted by the City of San Antonio. It’s a virtual gathering of international, national, state, and local experts, as well as advocates and survivors. The purpose of the event is to include everyday community members.
Spurs player Patty Mills is also involved and will lead the opening session.
Organizers tell the public to join in, not just to hear from their favorite basketball player, but also so they can learn how to step up, understand domestic violence red flags and take action when they see something wrong.
“In public health, we know the risks of diabetes, we know the risks of heart attacks, but do we know the risks for domestic violence? A relationship going bad? We don’t, and that’s something we want everyone in the community to know,” Hixon said.
There will be three main sessions: civil law, criminal law, and community. You don’t have to be a lawyer or law enforcement officer to join the event.
“Every time we do a presentation like that, someone comes up to me after the presentation and says ‘I didn’t know. My friend is experiencing that.’ or ‘I didn’t know my cousin has that going on,’” Hixon said.
Hixon wants people to understand that domestic violence thrives on shame and isolation, so the more we talk about it and reach out to those affected, the less isolated they will be.
“We have an opportunity to really make a difference in the way our community sees relationships and find a path forward for our community, but it takes time and those hard conversations,” she said.
The free virtual symposium will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, and from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30.