Houston area women’s center celebrates 45 years of community service as demand for assistance increases

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HOUSTON – Last year, KPRC 2 first reported how Harris County had seen a 40% increase in domestic violence crimes since the onset of the pandemic with domestic-related homicides ticking up even higher compared to the year before.

“We must be focused on solutions unless we elevate our efforts today. One in four women and one in 10 men will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetime,” said Emilee Whitehurst, President & CEO of Houston Area Women’s Center. The center is celebrating its 45-year anniversary of serving the Houston community and announced plans to expand its services to better serve survivors and their families at a time when the demand has increased.

Maisha Colter, CEO of Aid To Victims of Domestic Abuse, a non-profit that offers free legal services, said addressing the issues facing victims in underserved communities who may have a tougher time accessing resources continues to be one of the greatest challenges.

“Oftentimes our services are indicated when the police are called and there are people who really do not want to call the police because they think it might have a negative impact on them just by calling the police,” Colter said.

While Colter expects to see a 23% increase in people asking for free legal services by the end of this year, resources are limited. Hiring more attorneys and paralegals comes with a cost.

“We still have paid staff that we have to contend with and that is difficult. We have to fundraise. We have to find grants and other resources to be able to do the work that we do for the community,” Colter said.

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