Fighting Domestic Violence

October is National Family Violence Awareness Month. In Texas alone, some 136 women were killed last year by their boyfriend or husband. The Houston Police Department recently held a forum to inform to give young women the information they need to better deal with this issue. Bill Stamps has more.

“911 Emergency. Can you get someone over here now to 325 Gretna Green. He’s back, please.

“OK, what does he look like?”
“He’s OJ Simpson. I think you know his record.”

It’s probably one of the most infamous and chilling 911 calls ever made public. And it highlights the serious problem of domestic violence more than any seminar or forum ever could . If a famous football and movie star get beat his wife, then anyone is.

A panel of experts tried to make that point at a University of Houston domestic violence forum.

Domestic Violence Forum

“Someone was taken to jail and let out and then go into a honeymoon phase…”

The young women in the small room had a number of questions…but it wasn’t clear if the seriousness of the issue really sunk in. After all, statics show some of them will be victims at some point in their life.

Frida Villalobos works for a Houston shelter. She talked about the warning signs.

“Is he controlling you? Is he possessive?  Is he constantly isolating you from your friends and family? Is he controlling your every move: where you are, what time are you coming home? Is he controlling the way you dress, the people you hang out with?  So those are the things that you need to look for.”

The experts say most women don’t report the abuse to police at first. And when things get worse, they may report it but refuse to leave the relationship.

HPD Psychologist Virdi Lethermon says leaving is the key, because things are bound to get worse and no matter how many times he says he’s changed or he’s sorry…it’ll probably happen again.

“It’s not something that developed in ten minutes. It’s not something that will be resolved in ten minutes. Under stress ,we resort to that which we know best and what I know best if that’s my pattern is that kind of behavior, so that’s what I resort to as a knee-jerk.”

HPD Sgt Mellisa HolbrookThe experts say the behavior of an abuser is so unpredictable that even leaving the relationship may not be enough. HPD Sgt. Mellisa Holbrook says restraining orders don’t always restrain.

“People that are typically affected by that abide by the orders are someone who has something to lose. Somebody that has a standing in the community, has a job. They’re going to abide by that but someone who has a criminal history who doesn’t work and that just goes from crime to crime and its not just domestic violence.”

She says people with nothing to lose are more likely to break that restraining order, but remember that 911 call 

“OK just stay on the line. I don’t want to stay on the line, he’s gonna beat the bleep out of me.”

OJ Simpson had everything to lose and we all know how that story ended. Police and victim’s rights groups want to prevent more women from becoming victims in the future. Bill Stamps KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

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