Domestic violence prevention advocates say victims are suffering in silence for fear of small town talk

‘We don’t get enough awareness until it actually happens,’ advocate says

PEARSALL, Texas – Victims of domestic violence are reluctant to seek help because news travels fast in small towns, and everyone knows everyone, a Hondo domestic violence survivor advocate says.

Elda Garcia, executive director of Southwest Family Life Centers, says the organization does the best it can with the limited resources in rural communities when it comes to stopping domestic violence and helping victims find safety. She said they work closely with law enforcement agencies, judges and district attorneys, but survivors often still “fall short from receiving the services they need.”

Some don’t know that help is available. Others simply don’t want to let people know they have problems.

“We’re located in the small communities, and everyone knows everyone. They’re embarrassed to come and show up. I just wish they would because we are here to help,” Garcia said.

Pearsall police said a man shot his estranged wife and another woman before turning the gun on himself at a local business on June 16. The business owner told KSAT it was the woman’s sister who was grazed by a bullet. The victim is still recovering from serious injuries in the hospital.

“It’s sad in our rural communities we don’t get enough awareness until it actually happens,” Garcia said.

She says talking about the fact that domestic violence happens in every community is a starting point to changing the culture and saving lives.

“This is not their fault,” Garcia says to the victims. “Don’t be ashamed of what’s happening to you. There is help. You’re not alone.”

SWFLC covers Medina, Frio, Real, Uvalde and Kinney counties. If you need help, call 830-426-5131. The hotline is open 24/7.

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.