October is designated as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This important awareness campaign originated as a “Day of Unity” in 1981 to bring attention to the issue of domestic violence in communities around the country. Spearheaded by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), the “Day of Unity”, and subsequent awareness month, created a platform for victims, survivors and advocates to come together to give a voice to this troubling issue and offer support for those impacted by domestic violence, both directly and indirectly. Research has shown the key to domestic violence prevention is stopping it before it begins, which is why this educational awareness month is so important. I’d like to share some information about domestic violence in hopes that by working together, we can break the cycle of abuse in our communities.

When it comes to domestic violence, it is important to recognize there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ victim. Domestic violence affects millions of individuals and families in the country each year regardless of economic level, ethnicity, religion, age or education. In fact, NCADV reports that one in four women and one in seven men have been a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, includes behaviors such as physical violence, sexual violence, threats and emotional or psychological violence. Incidents of abuse can range from a single occurrence to severe episodes over a number of years.

For those seeking help and support from domestic violence, the importance of local, state, and national programs and shelters cannot be underestimated, as indicated by a report released by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). Each year, NNEDV conducts a survey of over 1,700 domestic violence programs and shelters in the United States over the course of a 24-hour period. The NNEDV’s National Census of Domestic Violence Services (Census) gives an unparalleled snapshot of the number of individuals requesting services, the type of services requested, and the experiences of both victims and advocates on an average day. In 2017, the Census found that in one day, over 72,000 adults and children received services from a local shelter or program. Meanwhile, an additional 11,441 victims were unable to access necessary services due to too much demand. In addition to face-to-face support services, local, state and national domestic violence hotline staff answered calls from 20,352 victims, which equates to almost 14 calls per minute.

In our area, there are several different organizations offering support for individuals and families impacted by domestic violence. The Women’s Shelter of South Texas dba The Purple Door serves victims and survivors of family violence and sexual assault living in a 12-county region of South Texas through a range of comprehensive services. These services include providing shelter, access to medical care, and basic necessities for victims, counseling services for families, resource referrals and criminal justice advocacy. The Purple Door offers support 24-hours a day in person or by calling its hotline at 361-881-8888. For more information about this organization, please visit The Purple Door.

In addition, the Corpus Christi Police Department’s Victim Assistance Program provides counseling, assistance with victim’s compensation claims and legal support for victims through its Family Violence Unit. Along with victim’s services, the program also offers training and education for law enforcement on domestic violence and sexual assault issues. To learn more about the Corpus Christi Police Department Victim Assistance Program, please visit the Family Violence Unit.

This month, please join me in remembering those who have tragically lost their life as a result of domestic violence, celebrate those who have prevailed from these violent circumstances, and find ways to connect those individually impacted by domestic violence. It is my hope that by working together, we can be a catalyst for breaking the cycle of domestic violence our community and helping those affected by abuse to have the support necessary for a safer future.

If you would like to review more about the legislature, please visit the Texas Legislature Online. If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office; 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part) He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672.