On March 1, a young woman walked into the Somervell County Sheriff's Office and filed a complaint against her boyfriend, a 21-year-old Glen Rose resident. She reported that the man assaulted her and left her with head injuries that required two staples.
Jail log records show the man was arrested on March 4. A day later, he posted bond in the amount of $1,500 and was released.
Last month an officer was dispatched to a residence where a domestic fight was in progress. A 34-year-old man was arrested for assault, with bodily injury, of his wife. The offense report indicated she had a red mark on her neck and was in pain. The husband was arrested, posted bond in the amount of $2,500 and was released the next day.
What's not known is what has happened to those people since then. But all too often, abuse continues and family violence becomes a pattern of behavior and even is passed down from generation to generation, according to groups who work with family violence victims.
Weekly jail logs maintained by the sheriff's office and published in the Glen Rose Reporter often include reports of assault in the category of family violence. Over the past 10 years, Somervell County's number of family violence incidents ranged from an annual high of 44 to a low of 25.
But the numbers don't tell the whole story. The National Domestic Violence Hotline based in Austin points out that dviolence is “one of the most chronically underreported crimes.” Many victims don't contact law enforcement authorities out of fear, embarrassment or the mistaken belief that they somehow “deserved” the abuse.
It also is one of the most widespread crimes, affecting people of all income levels, races, religions and those in large and small communities.
(Even as I write this story, the sheriff's scanner by my desk squaws on and a dispatcher sends an officer out on yet another domestic disturbance call.)
Because of the crime's unique nature, family violence incidents are broken out as a separate category in the uniform crime reports maintained by law enforcement agencies such as the Texas Department of Public Safety. The number of Texas family violence incidents rose 2.1 percent to 193,505 in 2008, the most recent year for which the DPS has data. Twenty-five of those occurred in Somervell County.
Larceny – the wrongful taking of property – accounts for the county's largest percentage of crime, with 70 incidents in 2008, according to DPS figures.
Jail logs show that nine arrests have been made in the county so far this year for assault with intent to cause bodily injury to a family member. The definition of “family member” includes a relative, spouse or ex-spouse, parents, foster children, foster parents and members or former members of the same household, including roommates. The Texas Senate amended the Texas Family Code to include dating relationships in the family violence reports.
The largest percentage of family violence reports are between married people, the DPS said, followed by common-law spouses and other family members. In Texas women are the victims in 75 percent of reported domestic violence incidents.
The most common weapon involved in family violence cases is physical force using hands, feet and fists, the DPS reported. That has been true in most of the Glen Rose cases this year as well.
Four of the family violence incidents that resulted in arrests occurred during the week of February's heavy snowstorm, jail log records show.
“You see that more when people are cooped up” during bad weather, said Derrell McCravey, the county's chief deputy.
Another disturbing trend is that more and more of the family violence cases involve young people in their teens or early 20s. One of the people recently arrested for family violence was only 18 years old.
“The economy puts more pressure on them,” McCravey said. “When things aren't going well, you're going to see it in these younger households.”
The sheriff's office works with emergency shelters in Parker, Johnson and Hood counties and with the county's justices of the peace when protective orders need to be issued, McCravey added. It also receives assistance from the United Way if victims can't get into a shelter and need a place to stay. In addition to Cleburne, Granbury and Weatherford, Stephenville also has a family violence shelter at Cross Timbers Family Services.
Amy Karr, community education and volunteer coordinator of the Johnson County Family Crisis Center in Cleburne, recently spoke at the Glen Rose Lions Club meeting to acquaint members with the center and its free services. Karr said the nonprofit gets some clients from Glen Rose, although she didn't know how many.
The center, founded in 1983 by a group of women who saw a need to help battered women and children, is funded by grants and donations from the community. It offers free counseling for anyone who in his or her lifetime has experienced family violence or sexual assault. Some of its clients are male.
The emergency temporary shelter can house up to 30 people, although it averages about 20 a night, Karr said. It has 10 rooms, each with a private bath, and provides food and personal items such as diapers for babies, as well as free counseling, clothing and budgeting classes.
Shelter residents must meet with a case manager and set goals for themselves. Families can stay six weeks and even up to three months if they are working toward their goals.
“Most of our clients don't have job skills and a lot of them didn't graduate from high school,” Karr said. “The majority have at least one child. They have a lot of obstacles to overcome.
“People sometimes ask, 'Why would a woman stay in that situation?'” Karr added. “But if you don't have job skills, if you're isolated, have children, no transportation, low self-esteem and are depressed, you may feel trapped.”
If you or someone you know is a victim of family violence, call the Johnson County Family Crisis Center's 24-hour hotline at 1-800-848-3206. Information is available in English and in Spanish. The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) also offers anonymous and confidential help.