Domestic Violence Overview
Domestic violence is a complex issue, cutting across multiple systems and requiring multigenerational strategies. A public health approach needs more than a five-year commitment; however, a change in direction and early indicators should be possible in five years. The proposed five-year plan builds on exiting gaps and moves the community toward addressing upstream factors that influence endemic violence in the city.
Goal 1: Disrupt The Developmental Pathways Toward Partner Violence
It is hard to overstate the importance of childhood experiences of violence in later experiences of violence. The early lessons children receive about relationships and attachment are profoundly important in their life trajectory. Exposure to adverse childhood events, such as child abuse and neglect, and witnessing domestic violence, increase the risk for later domestic violence. Approaches that interrupt the pathways between early exposure to violence and later perpetration or victimization include home visiting programs, such as the Nurse-Family Partnership, rich preschool environments that engage families, and programs that support the development of healthy parenting skills such as the Triple P in collaboration with community partners.
Goal 2: Teach Safe And Healthy Relationship Skills
In addition to addressing individuals and interrelationship dynamics, the broader community context can significantly influence many aspects of domestic violence. Approaches that address the more comprehensive social and physical environment can encourage higher rates of disclosure of abuse, and positive social norms that are intolerant of domestic violence can increase the likelihood that bystanders will intervene.
Goal 3: Increase Cross-Sector Partnerships and Transparency
The roots of violent behavior are intertwined, as are the solutions. Communities that have successfully addressed reducing violence have used coordinated, multi-level, collaborative approaches to the organized resources and programs across sectors. The Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence brings together leaders from many sectors to address domestic violence and work toward common solutions.
Goal 4: Coordinate and Streamline Access to Services and Trauma-Informed Response Systems
Survivors of domestic violence experience long term adverse physical and mental health outcomes. The entire approach of this report is to prevent violence from happening in the first place. However, when violence does happen, the community needs to be prepared to respond comprehensively to survivors' needs and reduce the potential long-term impacts of violence. Evidence-based approaches to support survivors include ensuring wrap-around services that are victim-centered, housing that rapidly transitions to stable, affordable long-term housing, and first responder and civil legal protections. Additionally, universal screening, treatment, and support for survivors using trauma-informed approaches can mitigate some of the negative impacts of domestic violence.
Goal 5: Support Survivors To Increase Safety And Lessen Harms
Housing instability and the lack of long-term supportive housing for individuals experiencing domestic violence are significant barriers preventing survivors from leaving an abusive home and seeking safety. Long term, supportive housing that includes comprehensive job training and support is crucial. Living in poverty has been identified as an independent risk factor for experiencing domestic violence. Strengthening financial security can be accomplished through public benefit programs, such as TANF and SNAP, in addition to cash transfers. Increasing the economic standing and safety of families through income supports has been demonstrated to decrease parents' domestic violence rate and improved school performance for children. Ensuring safe, supportive housing, fair wages, and job training for families can change the family's trajectory and support recovery.
Goal 6: Reduce Access to Weapons and Increase Availability of Rehabilitative Programs
This two-part strategy reduces domestic violence's lethality by reducing access to the most common means of murder and increases access to rehabilitative services to break the cycle of abuse in the future. Guns are overwhelmingly the weapon used in domestic violence-related homicides. Women are twice as likely to be killed in a multiple-victim incident, often where a woman and several family members are killed. Firearms are also very commonly used to terrorize and intimidate victims and survivors of domestic violence. An estimated 4.5 million women in the United States alive today have been threatened by an intimate partner with a gun. In Texas, in 2018, 59% of perpetrators of domestic violence-related homicide used a firearm to kill their partner.
Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence
Save the date: sept 28-29
The Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence (CCDV) is hosting the 2nd Annual Domestic Violence Awareness Symposium in October 2021. The symposium is an event that will offer sessions specifically designed for professionals in the legal and nonprofit sectors.
What is the Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence?
The Commission on Collaborative Strategies to Prevent, Combat, and Respond to Domestic Violence is a joint City/County commission that will be implementing portions of the domestic violence comprehensive plan selected by Commission Chairs over the next three years.
A Special Order signed and entered on July 30, 2019, by Local Administrative District Court Judge Peter Sakai created the first-of-its-kind Commission on Collaborative Strategies to Prevent, Combat, and Respond to Domestic Violence. Co-Chaired by Deputy City Manager Maria Villagomez and 150th District Court Judge Monique Diaz, the Commission held its first meeting on Friday, August 16, 2019, and is the first in Bexar County to formally convene local leaders in government, the judiciary, law enforcement, prosecution, non-profits, and health care agencies with one shared vision: reduce domestic violence in Bexar County.
- Prosecution – District Attorney Joe D. Gonzales, Chair
- Judicial – Judge Mary Lou Alvarez and Judge Ron Rangel, Co-Chairs
- Healthcare – George Hernandez (UHS) and Jelynne Burley (Center for Healthcare Services), Co-Chairs
- Law Enforcement – Chief William McManus and Sherriff Javier Salazar, Co-Chairs
- Non-Profits – Patricia Castillo (Peace Initiative), Marta Palaez (Family Violence Prevention Services), and Julia Rodriguez (Texas Rio Grande Legal Aide), Co-Chairs
- Policy – Jeff Coyle (City of San Antonio) Chair
Each committee is responsible for developing a one-year work plan (PDF) to address programs and processes that can be improved to prevent domestic violence and better serve survivors.
The CCDV wants to hear from you!
The CCDV continues to seek community input and guidance to respond to the needs of survivors and their families. In addition to the work each committee has committed to completing that will engage with community stakeholders including survivors, the CCDV will be seeking ongoing community feedback and guidance.
Any community member may nominate an individual for one of the CCDV committees. Additionally, community members can provide feedback on the Commission, strategies, or share ideas through an additional form. Submissions can be anonymous!
Monthly Facebook Live Updates
Lead by a different committee each month, committee chairs and/or guests will provide a brief update on Committee status and pose a community question for feedback over the month.
- November/May - Full Commission
- December/June - Judiciary
- January/July - Healthcare
- February/August - Non-Profit
- March/September - Law Enforcement
- April/October - Prosecution
Quarterly Community Meetings
Stay tuned for new dates for the CCDV quarterly community meetings.
In Spring 2019, our community identified an increase in domestic violence-related murders. Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales and Councilman Manny Pelaez asked the Department of Human Services (DHS) and Metropolitan Health District (Metro Health) for a structured assessment of domestic violence-related services. The evaluation included available services, systems of data collection and analysis, and community responses to family violence, including by law enforcement, social services, courts, and educators. The assessment also pinpointed gaps in service, and potential system improvements in incident reporting and follow up.
WHAT IS A PUBLIC HEALTH APPROACH TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PREVENTION?
Public health is fundamentally a science of prevention, addressing upstream factors to prevent downstream consequences. In practice, this means that upstream public health solutions like supporting positive parenting, for downstream problems like domestic violence-related homicide, take many years to change outcomes. Survivors of one form of violence are more likely to be victims of other forms of violence. Youth who have been physically abused by an intimate partner are more likely to have experienced abuse as a child1. Children who experience physical abuse or neglect are at greater risk for committing violence against peers2, teen dating violence, and committing child abuse3, intimate partner violence, and sexual violence later in life. A public health approach is not a quick fix, but slow, deep change to systems and whole communities. It requires sustained, multi-sector commitment and transparent evaluation of what is working and what isn’t to make change rooted in evidence.
Do you have an idea for us or something you would like us to know about domestic violence?
Reports & Presentations
Domestic Violence during Pregnancy
Did you know that domestic violence sometimes starts or worsens during pregnancy? In fact, 3 in 10 pregnant women experience some form of abuse. Verbal violence may turn physical. Physical violence may turn deadly.
Resources for Partners
Partners can click to download bilingual fact sheets on domestic violence during pregnancy.
If you are being hit or verbally abuse during your pregnancy, you are more likely to experience:
Injury to your uterus
Miscarriage, stillbirth or premature baby
A dangerous vaginal infection from forced or unprotected sex with someone who has an infection
Increased first and second trimester bleeding
Violence also increases your baby's risk of:
Weighing too little at birth
Having trouble nursing or taking a bottle
Having sleeping problems
Being harder to comfort than other babies
Having problems learning to walk, talk and learn normally
Experiencing lasting emotional trauma
Being physically and sexually abused
Being hurt during a fight
In order to have a healthy pregnancy and baby, you must be free of violence and fear. If you are experiencing domestic violence, it is important that you contact your health care provider for help.
We love you. We love your baby. We are here to help.
Alamo Area Rape Crisis Center
The Alamo Area Rape Crisis Center serves those impacted by sexual violence. The City of San Antonio partners with the center to support sexual assault emergency services to ensure that survivors of sexual assault have necessary emotional support and community resources. Advocates are available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, to respond with compassion and understanding to trauma related to sexual assaults. Learn more.
Bexar County Family Justice Center
The Bexar County Family Justice Center assists victims of domestic violence and their families access legal and social services; ensure effective apprehension and prosecution of domestic violence cases; increase reporting of domestic violence among undocumented residents; and empower and educate victims of domestic violence to end abusive relationships. The City of San Antonio partners with the Bexar County Family Justice Center to provide support for the Dream Center, Project EMPOWER, and Victim’s Empowerment Counseling program components. These services focus on: crisis intervention through expedited review and processing of protective orders; providing survivors with the support needed to stabilize their families, develop safety plans, and overcome economic obstacles to independence; and counseling and case management support to assist survivors in establishing short and long term stability goals. Learn more.
Family Violence Prevention Services
Family Violence Prevention Services provides survivors with the necessary tools for self-sufficiency through delivery of emergency shelter, transitional housing, effective parenting education, and specialized intervention with youth and the elderly. The City of San Antonio partners with them to support the shelter, community based counseling, and lethality assessment training services. Learn more.
Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid (Legal representation)
TRLA provides free civil legal services to residents in 68 Southwest Texas counties, and represents migrant and seasonal farm workers throughout the state and in six other southern states. The City of San Antonio partners with TRLA to fund pro bono representation for survivors of domestic violence. The Agency recruits and trains attorneys on the litigation process for protective orders in Bexar County. Learn more.
Whitby Road Alliance (Providence Place)
Whitby Road Alliance (Providence Place) provides multi-purpose programming to adult survivors of complex trauma, women facing an unplanned pregnancy, families with children under the age of three and children and youth in foster care. The City of San Antonio provides operational support for the Mariposa Home, which provides transitional housing to single adult women, pregnant women and women with children under age 3 who have been victims of domestic abuse, human trafficking, and sexual assault with a goal of assisting survivors in achieving self-sufficiency and stability. Learn more.
The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. The City of San Antonio partners with the YWCA to support a domestic violence prevention school-based education program. The program partners with school districts to guide the training of teachers to prevent and reduce the incidence of teen dating violence among youth. Through evidence-based curriculum, teachers learn to provide education to youth about healthy relationships, dating abuse, resources for victims of violence, and conflict resolution skills. Learn more.