SAN ANTONIO — A multi-faceted approach to addressing domestic violence aims to help victims get to safety and address the root cause of abuse.
On Monday morning—city and county leaders shared results of the collaborative commission on domestic violence and its goals for the future.
Domestic violence survivors listened to the results and the plan for action.
While leaders acknowledged it may seem strange to discuss domestic violence on Valentine’s Day, they say abuse inside relationships often starts as loving and become unsafe.
For Rosita Lira, a mom, grandmother and business owner, that rings true for her.
“It’s time to heal from the domestic abuse because hurt people hurt people. Educate and empower, enrich our community,” Lira said.
Lira stood outside the steps of city halls, holding a sign with the words “victim” and “survivor” crossed out.
“I’m a warrior, not a victim, not a survivor, I’m a warrior,” she said before letting out a scream in empowerment.
She listened as community leaders in healthcare, non-profits, law enforcement highlighted their efforts to fight domestic violence in San Antonio and Bexar County.
“There is hope, we are doing something, we’re investing significant resources, time and energy into processing these cases and those families will get the justice they need and deserve,” Judge Monique Diaz said.
Judge Diaz is co-chair of the Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence, which is rounding up its second year.
The commission released its outcomes on Monday which includes results in different fields.
Results listed include the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council creating a pilot referral hotline. County criminal courts got help with the backlog of domestic violence cases by adding two temporary judges. 11 of 13 county court judges are now able to hear domestic violence cases as well.
On the civil side, Judge Diaz says county funding for an additional Child Protective Services court.
“This new court is really going to allow our CPS judges on the civil side to spend more time diving into how to help these families and make sure these children are living in safe households,” Judge Diaz said.
Bexar County DA Joe Gonzales says he wants to make quicker decisions when prosecuting offenders.
“One of the things we did when we came in was to make a decision within 30 days, our goal should be to make them within 48 to 72 hours,” DA Gonzales says an increase in funding will allow them to achieve that goal.
Goals for the third year of the program include creating an evidence-based teen dating violence prevention curriculum, ensure protective orders issued in abuse cases are followed, and law enforcement taking a victim-centered approach to domestic violence cases.
Lira feels that mobile hubs could be useful in providing a resource for victims.
“Our victims can’t get downtown to get services, we need services and we need mobile units to meet them at their safe space or safe house,” Lira said.
Lira knows this isn’t an easy problem to fix, but wants to see the efforts continue.
“We are going to do our best to conquer domestic abuse and the shame that comes with it,” Lira said.