By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – October is “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” and the staff of the Family Crisis Center of East Texas (FCCET) was in Crockett on Thursday, Oct. 5 to kick off the month long awareness campaign in Houston County.

The program was opened by Heather Kartye, Executive Director of the FCCET.

“Our agency provides services victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. We are so grateful to this community for supporting us in everything we do here. It is truly a pleasure to be here. October is “Domestic Violence Awareness Month and we took the opportunity to hold an event here to commemorate the month and to talk about the impact of domestic violence, not only in our community, but in our state and nationwide as well,” she said.

Following Kartye’s opening remarks, a poem entitled “Deadly Storm” was read by Mary Curtis, a counselor with the FCCET.

In part, the poem states, “It’s time for me to start listening to me, the day has come to set myself free. My head and my heart always at war, my head saying go, my heart shuts the door. Suffering each day with the hurt and the pain, yet wanting to hold you again and again. Feeling your strength as I hit the ground – an explosion of anger too tightly wound. There’s nowhere to go, you’ve locked the door. Eyes shut so tight, please god no more! Numb, yet in pain, as I struggle to stand then my lip splits from the force of your hand.”

Once Curtis concluded the poetry, Veronica Pace, a crisis worker in the facility’s emergency shelter, addressed the crowd assembled at the Houston County Courthouse.

Pace provided the audience with several statistics from the National Network Against Domestic Violence. Some of the numbers she recited indicated:

  • One in three women and one in four men will experience violence from their partner over the course of their lifetime.
  • Nationwide, an average of three women are killed every day by a former or current partner.
  • Over 15 million children are exposed to domestic violence per year.
  • Children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs or alcohol, run away from home or engage in teenage prostitution.
  • Domestic violence in the United States has been estimated to cost employers approximately $13 billion annually.

“Those are some pretty astounding statistics,” Kartye said. “Maybe you are a survivor of domestic violence and maybe you’re not, but it affects everyone.”

The next speaker was legal advocate Maria Rodriguez. Rodriguez shared a story from her past and said her sister had been killed “… in 1983 by her husband. She had three children.”

Rodriguez also recalled a moment in time when she was confronted with how domestic violence affects others.

She said while her son was in high school, the teacher had asked students to share a memory from their childhood.

Rodriguez explained she was called to the school after her son had shared his memory.

According to Rodriguez, her son recalled a conversation he had overheard between hi mom and his Aunt Julia.

“I remember my Aunt Julia telling my mom how she wished Uncle Isaac would give her flowers. It was Valentine’s Day and she had not gotten anything. Mom told her she would get flowers soon. My Aunt Julia was killed the next month by Uncle Isaac and she got a bunch of flowers,” the legal advocate said.

Once Rodriguez concluded, Victim’s Assistance Coordinator Buck Carroll and Houston County Attorney Daphne Session spoke to the assembled crowd.

Carroll explained it was important to treat domestic violence as a real problem and to enforce the laws just like any other type of assault perpetrated on another individual.

The county attorney explained that many victims of domestic violence reach a point where they feel hopeless and simply give up.

As she continued to speak about victim’s assistance, Session became somewhat emotional.

“If we don’t give up, sometimes they (domestic violence victims) won’t give up,” she said.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.