Incidences of family violence rising in Texas

Domestic violence is a problem that occurs throughout the United States, among people of every age, gender, race and financial status. Unfortunately, incidences of abuse have been rising in Texas. According to the Texas Council on Family Violence, there were 188,992 reported incidences of domestic abuse in 2012, and 114 women were killed as a result. These numbers were significantly higher than those from the previous year.

Understandably, victims of domestic violence may feel desperate to escape their situation and protect their children, but can feel like there’s nowhere to turn. They might also not recognize the warning signs of abuse until it’s too late. It’s important for both women and men to understand the different symptoms of domestic violence, and to realize that it’s possible to get help and escape.

How to tell when a partner may be abusive

According to Safe Horizon, one out of every four women will become victims of domestic violence at some point during their lifetime. The early signs of abuse can be difficult to detect. Abusers usually start small and gradually increase their threats and control over their partner until the victim is entirely dependent and feels powerless to get out. They are often made to feel inferior, weak, ashamed and afraid. Abusers may threaten to harm or take away the children, and keep their victims from seeing family and friends. When abuse is emotional and verbal, it can even be more confusing and frightening than physical abuse, says HelpGuide.

An abusive spouse can often have a volatile temper and may sometimes destroy the other person’s belongings. Victims can feel constantly under stress in their attempts to keep from making the abuser angry. When a person is experiencing some of all of these signs on a regular basis, it may be time to take steps to end the relationship.

How abuse affects children

Victims of abuse who plan to leave will need help getting their children the best type of custody arrangement, to protect them from the devastating long-term effects of abuse. Boys who have grown up in abusive households may become abusers themselves, while girls who were repeatedly exposed to family violence may grow up to become victims of abuse.

Abuse victims will need support from family, friends and local resources to help them get out of their situation. They will also need to plan the following:

  • Create and rehearse an escape plan to get themselves and children out safely.
  • Gather belongings, clothing, documents and emergency cash, and store them in a secure place.
  • Memorize emergency numbers and crisis hotlines and websites.
  • Document and, if possible, report instances of abuse, including taking pictures of injuries.

When it’s time to escape, a protection order against the abuser can provide additional legal protection. There are many local resources and centers that can help victims of abuse through these difficult steps, which include emergency housing, support groups and legal resources. People can also get help by calling a divorce attorney with experience in domestic violence.