A Look at Domestic Violence in the City of Houston

by tylercook on June 17, 2013

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In recent years, the nationwide problem of domestic violence has been brought to the forefront. Once an issue that was widely ignored or swept aside as a private family matter, domestic violence is now seen as the deep-rooted and often tragic issue that it truly is. And whereas its victims were once trapped in a near-perpetual chain of violence and guilt, now an increasing array of programs, services, and resources are available to help break the vicious cycle.

According to the Houston Police Department website, 7 percent of those polled either have been victims of domestic violence or know someone who has. By the same source, over 67,000 incidents of domestic violence are reported nationally on an annual basis. The problem is real and it is widespread.

Domestic Violence Registry

In Texas, House Bill 21 was recently passed creating a Domestic Violence Registry. The Domestic Violence Registry operates in a manner similar to sex offender registries that are currently utilized by many states, including a publicly searchable database that displays the name and picture of those on the list. According to CBS-DFW, an offender will be listed in the registry beginning with their third domestic violence offense.

Specialized Units

Many police departments, recognizing the unique, serious, and highly personal nature of domestic violence incidents, have created specialized units to investigate domestic violence and to offer support and resources to victims. The Houston Police Department’s Family Violence Unit investigates reports of domestic violence and offers a wide range of tips and links to help within the community. Additionally, the Family Violence Unit trains street-level officers who will be responding to crime scenes to assist victims. In addition to the above information, the Houston Police Department Family Violence Unit lists websites, phone numbers, and contact information for legal assistance and temporary shelters for victims.

Often, victims of domestic violence feel trapped in their abusive relationships. Many times, abusers will attempt to control victims by limiting their opportunities for employment, access to money, or even contact with friends and family members. Abused victims may feel that they will be on their own outside of the abusive relationship, or that attempts to secure help for themselves requires abandoning their children. Thankfully, a wide network of resources has come into play that offers victims shelter and temporary assistance not only for them, but their children as well. Services such as The Houston Area Women’s Center offer shelter and advocates, often on an immediate, call-out basis.

Additional Help for Non-English Speakers

Non-English speaking victims face even more significant hurdles. Oftentimes, these victims come from societies in which family violence is culturally accepted. Language barriers may prevent these victims from being able to communicate effectively with law enforcement or service providers. Additionally, those victims who are in the country illegally may fear sanctions or deportation if they come into contact with police. Abusers are often aware of this and use this fear as an additional means of control. The Houston Women’s Center Hotline, (713) 528-2121, is staffed 24 hours a day and can offer services in both English and Spanish in order to help these often “hidden” victims.

Seek Legal Help

A contested divorce attorney in Houston may also be of help to victims. In addition to being able to direct victims to many of the resources described above, an attorney can help victims navigate a complex and challenging court system to ensure that they and their children have the resources they need to survive outside of the abusive relationship.

The devastating issue of domestic violence is still plaguing the country, the state of Texas, and the City of Houston. However, a wide and increasing array of resources is available to help victims escape this vicious cycle and hold abusers accountable for their crimes. A contested divorce attorney can play a key role in this ongoing struggle to rescue victims from their difficult situations.


Patrick Hendrickson is a freelance writer specializing in legal topics such as Family Law, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Criminal Defense and other topics as well.




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