"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." - Helen Keller
“Rebecca” is a 32 year old mother of 3. She called the police when she became so afraid of her husband when during an argument, he placed hands around her throat and started pressing hard until she almost passed out. Her children were sleeping in the next room. She called 911, and her husband left before the police arrived. This started a sequence of events for Rebecca and her family that she had little control over. She took a trip to the emergency room for her injuries. She was told a CPS report would be made because of the severity of the incident, and the fact that her children were present. She was given the number to call a women’s center. Since her husband fled and was not yet able to be arrested, she was told to call the District Attorney’s office to get a protective order and find out about how Crime Victim’s Compensation could help her. She had questions about her safety, her children and the custody, how she would support herself without her husband’s income, and what was going to happen with the criminal case. This was all so foreign to her, and frankly she was in crisis and not sure what to do. Rebecca was now in the challenging process of interacting with over 6 different systems, of which she knew nothing. She still had to go to work, be a good mother, and do all the things that come with daily life. She felt lost, confused, and afraid. In Harris County, the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council is working to develop community collaborations that seek to: increase safety to victims of domestic violence, hold perpetrators of domestic violence accountable for their crime, and create community collaborations that maximize resources and work to prevent and end domestic violence. The Council is working to improve the systemic responses to domestic violence to help minimize the impact of trauma on families like Rebecca’s.
The Council is uniquely positioned to complete the first ever community wide assessment of systems in Harris County to increase safety for victims of domestic violence, build stronger communication across the systems, and provide a sturdy safety net that minimizes duplication of services among providers while maximizing efficiency of service delivery toward a safer future for all citizens. The five systems to be assessed include law enforcement, civil and criminal justice, domestic violence service providers, medical services and Child and Adult Protective Services. This assessment is driven by the voices of those who access each of the systems and is focused on meeting their needs. Outcomes will include designing a consensus built plan for the prevention of domestic violence in Harris County, decreasing violent deaths, increasing access to services and building relationships that impact systemic change. Through the assessment, the Council will discover the practices that work to keep victims safe and the gaps and barriers to effective services. Once gaps are identified the Council will develop strategic plans that emphasize the leading practices, bridge the gaps and ultimately eliminate the barriers. This will create systemic change in Harris County that will enhance safety, improve access to services and work toward the prevention of future violence for all victims in our community.