Domestic violence during the holidays: Houston Area Women’s Center offers resources

Many cases have turned deadly in recent weeks

HOUSTON – This time of the year can be a dangerous one.

According to Emilee Whitehurst, CEO of Houston Area Women’s Center, there appears to be a “pattern of escalation” in relational violence around the holidays.

On Thursday morning, a woman was fatally shot at an apartment complex on Calhoun Road in South Houston. And on Thanksgiving, another domestic violence case. Deputies say a man approached a vehicle in east Harris County. A confrontation ensued and shots were fired, killing an 18-year-old and a 22-year-old man. As police said the shooter remains at large, this is another example of escalation that ended tragically.

“Victims do not have control over their abusers. And they are not to blame,” said Whitehurst. “Survivors do have a chance about how to respond to that violence and how to keep themselves and their children safe.”

Whitehurst adds that if you fear any type of escalation from a partner, you need to have a safety plan already figured out.

  • Have a code word for you and the kids that signals -- get to a safe place.
  • Have a plan for how to get to a predetermined safe place.
  • Tell a trusted family member or friend.
  • Keep important documents organized so you can grab and go. Returning for those later can be dangerous if the abuser still has access.

Lastly, Whitehurst says there should be no shame in admitting to yourself and others that you’re in a dangerous situation.

“There should be no shame. We really want to remove shame so that nobody feels that they have something to apologize for when they share their fears and concerns,” she said.

There are resources available when you’re ready.

“That sense of ‘I’ve had it. I’m done, that’s enough” -- it’s a healthy response to a very unjust situation for you,” Whitehurst added. “When you get there, breathe. Have a safety plan and let’s leave if that’s required in a way that doesn’t put you in great danger.”

If you need help assessing any danger or a loved one might be in, contact the Houston Aarea Women’s Center hotline at 713-528-2121 24 hours a day. You can also live chat online at HAWC.org.

If you’re in immediate danger, at any time, call 911.