The Texas Council on Family Violence released a new report today that shows 157 women killed in domestic violence homicide in Texas in 2015. That is the largest amount the TCFV has seen since they began keeping record.
In Williamson County, the domestic violence shelter turns away 45 families every month. While the murder rate for abuse victims is increasing--space for victims is not and they need help.
On February 17th of last year Katie Eager died as a result of what police defined as a rage killing, shot by her boyfriend in their cedar park apartment.
A month later, Jessica Hope Buzan of Taylor was shot by her husband in a murder-suicide. She left behind a teenage son.
The tragedies continued resulting in double the amount of domestic violence homicides for Travis County, three for Williamson County where there were none the year before, two in Bastrop County and one in Hays.
"We firmly believe these homicides are knowable, predictable and preventable,” said TCFV CEO Gloria Terry.
Domestic violence victim support groups said in a news conference Monday one way of preventing deaths is having adequate shelter, a safety-net for those whose lives are in danger. People like Suzanne Bertran.
"I was terrified, paralyzed, powerless," said Suzanne Bertran. “I'll never forget the darkness in his eyes on that day. I thought today is the day he's going to kill me.”
Bertran sought help from the hope alliance crisis center in round rock. The non-profit provides the only shelter in Williamson County. Space is extremely limited.
We toured the 5,000 square foot facility. It's essentially two homes joined by an enclosed den. The space only allows for 35 women and children.
HOPE Alliance CEO Patty Conner says she has to turn 45 families away every month.
"We know that shelters save lives. We also know it takes a great deal of courage to make that first phone call to reach out for help. And to be told at that point no room at the end can have devastating consequences,” said Conner.
The non-profit recently acquired land through a donation. Now they must raise the funds to build a shelter on that property.
Nolan Ryan and his wife are lending their help with a new public service announcement.
"They need to give. They need to give generously. They need to give as if they were saving a life because in deed they are,” said Terry.
The capacity goal for the new shelter is anywhere from 50 to 75 beds. To help build the shelter click here.