As the holidays draw near, HHS and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services want to remind Texans about resources available for domestic violence victims and family and friends who want to help.
Abuse is used along a continuum, and the holidays present challenges with people being at home more and having less contact with the outside world. It may start with a person using emotional or verbal abuse and then escalate to physical abuse, said Deborah Tucker, domestic violence specialist with DFPS.
The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence offers the Manifestations of Violence chart (PDF), which explains different types of abuse, how to recognize them, and that the person using violence may grow more dangerous if not challenged to change their behavior.
“It’s all connected,” Tucker said. But she added, people might not know what to say to or how to help victims of domestic violence.
“You don’t have to wait until you see a black eye to say, ‘I worry about you and your safety,’” Tucker said.
For more information about how to approach someone, visit the 5 Things to Say to a Victim handout (PDF) from the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. The Texas Family Violence Interagency Collaborative — which includes representatives from HHS, DFPS and the Texas Council on Family Violence — also created a podcast that discusses what to say in more detail.
The Texas Council on Family Violence offers resources and training for victims and loved ones, as well as those who work with organizations that seek to end family violence.
People who use violence can receive help from one of the many Battering Intervention and Prevention Programs (PDF), which are available around the state and are accredited through the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
If you or somebody you know is a target for a person using domestic violence, remember that shelters and centers remain open. You can visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, call 800-799-7233 (800-787-3224 for TTY) or text “START” to 88788 to find a local facility for immediate safety and to receive information, counseling and other support.
To learn more, visit the HHS Family Violence Program webpage.