By Marc Robertson
Shining new light on a recurring problem facing families across the community and of all socio-economic backgrounds, elected officials in La Salle County joined representatives of the Wintergarden Women’s Shelter this week in supporting a proclamation for October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The annual proclamation that rallies support among civic leaders and service providers is aimed at promoting public awareness of the blight that affects multiple generations and contributes to a recurring cycle of abuse and neglect.
“Domestic violence is the systematic use of physical, emotional, sexual, psychological and economic control and abuse, including abuse of children and the elderly,” La Salle County Judge Joel Rodriguez read from the proclamation that he signed Monday, September 26. “Domestic violence violates an individual’s dignity, security and humanity.”
Representing the Wintergarden Women’s Shelter at Monday’s proclamation ceremony in the La Salle County Commissioners’ Court were outreach coordinator Diana Gonzalez, shelter manager and program coordinator Zee Flores, and center director Erica Bustamante, who affirmed that the facility continues offering safe refuge, resources for assistance and counseling, and works to intervene in cases of violence in the home, including battery and neglect of the defenseless and harm to children by abusive family members.
“Domestic violence is not confined to any one group of people,” the county judge read. “It is spread across all economic, racial and societal barriers, which are supported by societal indifferences.”
It is those indifferences, according to the judge and Wintergarden representatives, that contribute to the continuation of abuse against women and children because of an apparent lack of public awareness and an unwillingness to take action towards intervention.
The shelter will display a set of red-painted silhouettes in the La Salle County Courthouse during October, representing victims of domestic violence. One of those silhouettes is dedicated to Margo Davis Lann, a middle-aged mother who was shot to death by her abusive husband in front of a grocery store in downtown Cotulla on a Monday morning in May 1997. It was during the husband’s trial for murder that the public was made aware of his allegedly continual mental, physical, sexual and psychological abuse of his wife and stepdaughter. The husband was found guilty of murdering his wife by shooting her repeatedly in the head; he subsequently died in prison.
“The impact of domestic violence is wide ranging,” the county judge said, “directly affecting individuals and society as a whole, here in this community, throughout the United States and around the world.”
The Wintergarden Women’s Shelter provides informational brochures and other assistive literature that demonstrates the facility’s willingness and ability to provide services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
“The survivors of domestic violence from the Wintergarden area have been at the forefront of efforts to bring peace and equality to their homes, neighborhoods and city,” facility representatives said. “The majority of Texans believe that they can make a difference in efforts to end domestic violence.”
“Abusive behavior is a learned behavior,” the proclamation for October read, “and children who live in domestic violent homes are at a higher risk of becoming abusers or victims.”
Present to witness the proclamation were county commissioners, law enforcement officers, elected officials and service providers.