Domestic Violence Cases Up

It's an alarming study about the number of women killed in domestic violence cases.

The study ranks Texas as the sixth highest state in the nation with more than 200 women killed in 2008.

At some point in their lives, one in four women and one in nine men will experience domestic violence, and the number of women murdered in domestic abuse cases are rising.

There was a 30 percent increase from 2007 to 2008.  Researchers with the Violence Policy Center said that in 2008 for every 100,000 Texas women 1.72 are killed by an abuser.

It's daunting numbers like those that has First Step, a domestic violence shelter in Wichita Falls speaking out about those crimes.

A young woman, and also a mother, Cassey Crump has witnessed it all.

"My father because of the drugs and alcohol he was very abusive to my mother."

Since she was a little girl until the age of 21 she saw and emotionally felt what that abuse does.

"As a little girl I was a very scared child, I just stuck to my mom because I was so scared all the time," said Crump.

Through rehab and time, the violence stopped.  She turned to help those who helped her as a child.  She works at First Step.  It's a safe haven providing shelter, food, clothes, along with hope to women who leave their abuser.  Crump works alongside Rosalind Strickland, the Executive Director and survivor of domestic violence.

"I really felt that being a part of this organization gives me the opportunity to help others to become survivors as well," said Strickland.

Over the past year, First Step has seen exactly what statistics are showing, an increase in those seeking shelter from abuse.

"Each month we've pretty much been topping out at our max of 40 whereas in the years
 past we haven't," said Strickland.

The organization provides services in 12 Texoma counties, they're hope is women in violent situations will take that first step.

"It doesn't make a difference in how many children you have, or how long it's gone on or what the situation is.  It's okay to leave and there's help available for you."

The shelter is also a home for men who leave their abuser.  Rosalind Strickland also says they're seeing a lot more older women in their 50's and 60's come into the shelter, something that hasn't happened in years past.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  First Step has numerous of events planned, one being a candle light vigil to be held October 28 at the Holiday Inn at the Falls from 6:30-8pm.  It serves as a night of remembrance and restoration for survivors and victims.

First Step will also hold a Domestic Violence Poetry Contest for students in the 8th-12th grade.  The theme is "Family Violence".  Winners will be announced at the candle light vigil.  Deadline to enter is October 15.  Point of contact is Chantel Grant at (940) 723-7799.

For more information about First Step click here