October is recognized as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. And unfortunately, October is recognized as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

On one hand, this period of time allows family and friends to remember those lost to domestic violence while honoring many who are survivors.

On the other hand, October shines a light on the saddening fact that too many women, men and children are losing their lives due to domestic violence, and even more, there are too many still suffering through the cowardice that is domestic violence.

Earlier this week, the ARK Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Shelter hosted their annual candlelight vigil. This event shines a light on this very real problem while reminding the local community that domestic violence is not just an issue being faced in the Metroplex and other big cities, but in Brown County and surrounding areas as well. 

While having a discussion with someone about the vigil, the conversation shifted toward not understanding how anyone, especially with children, could allow themselves to stay in an abusive relationship. I was quick to respond.

My take was that I have never been in an abusive relationship, so I can not possibly understand the logic process of a battered individual not fleeing the situation. However, I did offer possible reasons for not leaving, but the person I was speaking with was adamant that if someone wants out, they will find a way.

In 2015, 158 women and men in Texas were killed by the hands of another. Killed by someone they knew. Killed by someone they loved. Let me repeat that. 158 women and men in Texas were killed in 2015 in domestic violence situations.

This is unacceptable.

That is 158 too many lives being lost. And those numbers only represent Texas.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence report that on average, nearly 20 people per minute in the United States are abused by an intimate partner. Let that sink in. That means more than 10 million people in this country are/have been abused. One in three women and one in four men have been victims of some type of physical violence by a partner in their lifetime.

On average, more than 20,000 calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines across the nation. NCADV research shows that intimate partner violence makes up 15 percent of all violent crime. The statistic that stuck with my while researching for this column is that only 34 percent of people who are injured by intimate partners receive care for their injuries.

That last number took me back to the aforementioned conversation.

There is obviously several and similar reasons why abuse victims don’t just “get out.” Any of us can make assumptions, but until we have been in that boat or assisted abuse victims, wisdom dictates that we keep our opinions, and that is what they are, to ourselves.

During the vigil, I observed the facial expressions of those in attendance as the names of the 158 killed in Texas in 2015 were read. These victims ranged in age from 21 to one woman who was in her 80s when her life was taken. The entire event was sobering and scary at the same time. 

Locally, we have women and men who are survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and more than a dozen who are no longer with us because of this type of violence. However, we are blessed to have a staff and volunteers who run the ARK Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Shelter in Brownwood. This is a group of men and women who are at the ready 24/7 to help anyone from becoming a negative statistic and transforming victims into survivors.

My prayer is that anyone who can help the ARK will do so. If you want to learn more about this organization, check out arkshelter.org. This group can always use donations, time and talents. Your action could make a lifelong impact. 


Rick Phelps is the news director at KOXE-KBWD radio and a former staff writer for the Brownwood Bulletin. Comments may be emailed to news@brownwoodbulletin.com.