In 2018, 174 women were killed and 290 children lost parents due to domestic violence. Going back to 2011, Texas consistently has had over 100 women annually killed.

Locally, two out of three state district courts in Grayson County have domestic violence related cases scheduled for the last week of October. One of those is a murder case, and that fact alone seems to indicate that domestic violence, as a community problem, is not going away.

Last year marked the highest number of women killed in Texas by their intimate partner in the last decade.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. Information on the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website says that anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence.

“It can happen to people who are married, living together or who are dating. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels,” the site says.

Grayson Crisis Center Executive Director Shelli Shields said over half of the 174 women killed in Texas in 2018 had ended their relationship or were in that process and 67 of those victims died in their homes.

“We are quickly learning that leaving doesn’t equal safety,” Shields said.

As big a problem as domestic violence is in the state, it is an alarming problem locally, Shields said. The center worked with over 900 individuals last year.

“Our average stay for families in emergency shelter is 7-15 days before they are ready to transition into the next phase of rebuilding,” she said.

That rebuilding can take years.

Advocates at the center assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault with housing options, employment, legal services/protective orders, parenting, support groups, counseling, safety planning and crisis intervention.

Victims of domestic violence can find help at the center 24 hours a day, seven days a week by either phone or by walking in to the center located at 4200 N. Travis in Sherman.

Not just broken bones

“Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of domestic violence/abuse can be occurring at any one time within the same intimate relationship,” the National Domestic Violence hotline website says.

Physical abuse, the hotline says, can be a non-physical act like saying that you can never do anything right or showing extreme jealousy of a friend or other family member and any time spent away from the abuser. It can be a subtle as a look that scares you or as overt threatening you with a gun or other weapon or punching at or near you and warning that the next punch will hit you. It can also include things like pressuring you to do drugs, spend money that it is unwise to spend or controlling all of the money that comes into the household.

Some people are abused by a partner who never hits them but who threatens to or does hit of otherwise manipulate the children in the household. Others are abused by being prevented from holding down jobs which would allow them economic freedom or attending school which would ultimately allow them to have resources to use to leave the abuser.

Shields said if anyone knows of someone in their life who is or may be getting abused, the best option is really to refer them to the Crisis Center.

“We all want to help when people need us and I believe referring individuals to a trained advocate that can evaluate the full safety concern and focus on the immediate needs provides the best chance to escape. For individuals that are looking for help with their current relationship please know we are here to help, listen and give options. We work off of an empowerment based approach and encourage individuals make their own choices,” she said.

For additional information see:

The Grayson County Crisis Center:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline:

Texas Council on Family Violence: