New first-of-it’s kind program looks to break the cycle of family violence

Family Violence Prevention Program launched in April

SAN ANTONIO – Over the past several years, Bexar County has seen a rise in family violence and domestic violence cases, and the coronavirus pandemic, in part, has fueled the increase as well.

Those statistics are something the Family Violence Prevention Program is hoping to change.

“The answer to reducing domestic violence and bringing those alarming statistics down is to take a public health approach to domestic violence,” 150th Civil District Court Judge Monique Diaz said.

In April, the program launched as a subcommittee under the Children’s Court Oversight Committee.

“Sixty percent of our cases have a component of domestic violence and family violence, so we felt it was a good hub for where this program would sit,” committee chair and 438th Civil District Judge Rosie Alvarado said.

The program is something all 14 judges and four associate judges use in their courtroom now.

A team of five provides a plan of services for a family, and no one case is the same. Each one has a personalized plan.

‘We step in and provide the support, as requested by the judges for each family to make sure that they are able to navigate that and to hopefully break that cycle of family violence they’re experiencing so that we can help create a safe community,” said program court monitor Kathyrn Walston.

Some of the resources provided include counseling for children, parenting education, and batterers’ intervention and prevention courses.

This is all in hopes of turning things around in Bexar County and make sure families are protected.

“Our hope is that through the resources and the therapy and the education, that we plant a seed of change for the family and among our community,” said program director Natalia Contreras.

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About the Author:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter.