San Antonio came face to face with its horrible problem fo domestic violence at an emotional Congressional Hearing on the subject Thursday night at a south side church, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The hearing was called by U.S. Reps. Joaquin Castro and Lloyd Doggett as new figures indicate that the city's 'intimate partner violence' problem is not improving, and a new report on the issue concluded 'San Antonio is just not a safe city for women.' Estimates are that one of three San Antonio women who be a victim of domestic partner violence.
Patricia Castillo, the long time head of the P.E.A.C.E. initiative and the host of the Congressional hearing, said it is time to stop talking and start acting.
"Not just to talk about this, but also to declare today that we have decided to own this."
Women testified tearfully about how intimate partner violence has disrupted their lives and made them feel unsafe in their own homes. Testimony also covered emotional and even financial violence against women, as well as violece targeted agaisnt the elderly.
There was testimony that, contrary to common opinion, it is not simply one 'type' or one 'economic group' of women who are subjected to violence. The panel, which consisted not just of the members of Congress, but several groups that intervene in domestic violence cases, as well as Sheriff Javier Salazar and Police Chief Bill McManus, heard of wealthy, executive level, well educated and high earning women who are also victims of violence.
"This is not a woman's issue, this is a community issue," said Laurie Rodriguez, a Palo Alto College Professor who told her terrifying story of violence at the hands of a former boyfriend.
Witnesses said several things have to happen. They said the issuance of protective orders is now up to the whims of individual judges, and there has to be a standing order that women who are abused will receive the orders. There was also a call for more services, and more educational programs to help women understand where to go to receive help when they are a victim of abuse.
And Castillo said one thing is absolutely certain. She said domestic violence is a multi-generational program, and educational programs have to begin at the lowest grade levels.
"Everyone affected has to be able to get help to access help at various points, but I have seen each one of them somewhere else, and they will pass on their trauma to the next generation."