Austin to receive $500K in federal funding to prevent domestic violence killings

Austin has been chosen to receive thousands of dollars in federal funding to reduce domestic violence. 

CDC data shows homicide is one of the leading causes of death for women 44 and younger, and they're more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than anyone else.

"The goal is to make things seamless, where things are falling through the cracks," said Michelle Myles, manager of the Office of Violence Prevention.

It is a goal that has now been put in motion.

"Austin and Travis County have been trying to implement a standardized surrender protocol for decades, but have not been able to do it," said Myles.

Myles is talking about firearm surrender. Specifically, when guns are in the hands of potential abusers.

"And so this protocol is designed to look at that place where gun violence and domestic violence meet because what the research [and] the data shows is that when there is a firearm present in domestic violence cases there's a five-fold increase in homicides," said Myles.

RELATED: Austin-Travis County receives federal funding to prevent domestic violence killings, injuries by firearms

Austin was chosen to receive a $500,000 federal grant to put toward creating a "standardized firearm surrender protocol." It has all involved parties on the same page.

"From the judges to the prosecutors, from the police officers to the people who are involved in the domestic violence situation," said Myles.

Coni Huntsman Stogner helps lead The Safe Alliance. 

"Our name is also our mission," said Stogner.

SAFE stands for "Stop Abuse For Everyone." The organization will work closely with the OVP to implement the new protocol because they are on the frontlines.

"Gun violence and homicides in domestic violence are very closely tied," she said.

Data from the Texas Council on Family Violence shows in 2020, 228 Texans were killed by intimate partners. Of those victims, 183 were women. 

Twice as many victims were killed by a firearm than any other weapon. The key is prevention.

"People will say ;well why doesn’t she just leave? She should just leave, it’s so simple,' but what we know is that when a survivor tries to leave, that’s the most dangerous time and when there’s guns in the mix that’s even more lethal," said Stogner.

Myles said the funding will be used over three years.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can call the 24/7 SAFE hotline: (512) 267-SAFE.