SAN ANTONIO – “We could build a hundred shelters and still need more. It just has to stop.”
That’s a direct quote from an advocate, included in the city’s new domestic violence plan.
Domestic violence has been a problem in San Antonio for decades. The city’s now taking it on from a public health approach. And with two-thirds of the victims being children, the plan has a big focus on parenting.
Marta Pelaez, head of Family Violence Prevention Services, is just back from a statewide conference on domestic violence. She says where San Antonio ranks compared to other Texas cities is alarming.
"Right at the very top, with the highest number of incidents of domestic violence per capita,” Pelaez says.
Earlier this year, she got a worldwide perspective when she spoke at the United Nations.
"That was a very exciting and very humbling experience,” Pelaez says. "All of the issues that impact women all over the world."
"What did you tell the world about San Antonio?" reporter Emily Baucum asks.
"I did share with my audience some of these very sad events that we're living,” Pelaez says.
According to a report included in the city’s new plan, 35 people in Bexar County were killed last year because of domestic violence. The victims ranged from teenagers to grown adults.
"If we do not intervene with the abusers, if resources are not made available for these interventions, we're never going to deal with the problem,” Pelaez says.
The death toll has shocked San Antonio into a new approach. In August, area leaders formed a large commission on domestic violence. Their work formed the city’s new comprehensive plan to the stop the problem we see generation after generation.
"This is a five-year plan,” Pelaez says. "We have never done this before."
A big priority early in the plan is the Triple-P Parenting program. Back in September, the Trouble Shooters reported it was part of this year’s city budget.
The program’s been used all over the world to rein in family violence. And with additional funding from local nonprofits, it’s expected to serve nearly 90,000 area families with small children over the next three years.
"We can't go wrong when we are dedicating our efforts to preventing something as awful and as frequent as one in three in our community. We can't go wrong,” Pelaez says.
Obviously, the community will want to start seeing real results when it comes to domestic violence. So, the commission is meeting once a month to evaluate how the plan’s working.
There’s a data committee on the commission, charged with seeing if the numbers are going down. Plus, the commission will host monthly Facebook Lives where you can learn more about the process.
The commission is also holding quarterly informational sessions for the public. It all starts with a listening session Monday, November 18, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Bazan Library at 2200 West Commerce.
You can also email the commission with your questions, comments and suggestions at email@example.com.
By EMILY BAUCUM