Domestic Violence Homicides in Harris County are Highest in Texas


KATY MAGAZINE NEWS

October 6, 2018

by Ariana Pezeshki and Katrina Katsarelis

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Katy Magazine would like to shine a light on this growing epidemic. Pictured Lindsay Ferrill and her daughter Peyton.

In 2012, Lindsay Ferrill, a 28-year old Katy mom, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend leaving her 3-year old daughter Peyton motherless.

On the morning of the murder, Lindsay’s mother, Shari Nightingale, got a call from her daughter’s ex-boyfriend, apologizing and saying he "tried to make the relationship work." Nightingale had plans to meet Lindsay for lunch that day and never imagined the call was actually him confessing to the murder prior to taking his own life. "My daughter was a victim of a murder-suicide and had ended the relationship six months prior to her murder," says Nightingale, who is now a Katy-based domestic violence educator and spokesperson. Lindsay’s Light, is a Dating Violence Prevention Program through Shield Bearer Counseling Centers.

Alarming Local Statistics

Ferrill was one of 114 other women killed in Texas in 2012 by an intimate partner or ex-partner, and since then, the domestic violence murder rate has continued to climb. In 2016 there were 146 women killed in Texas. Harris County leads the state of Texas with 28 deaths due to domestic violence in 2016, and as of September 2018, there have already been 38 Harris County domestic violence homicides.

An Under Reported Crime "Houston police report they received more than 28,000 domestic violence cases in the first 10 months of this year, which accounts for 9% of all calls that officers handled," says Nightingale. "For every call officers received, three more likely went unreported. It is the most under reported crime," says Nightingale.

Her mission to educate young people about domestic dating violence abuse as part of Shield Bearer Counseling Centers. She speaks at schools, churches, and youth groups. "We educate them on the red flags of relationship abuse and the cycle of violence," says Nightingale.

"The statistics show 1 in 3 teens will experience dating violence before they leave high school," says Erica Brettell, Lindsay's sister and facilitator of the program. "We share my sister Lindsay’s, story to let them know this is real and can happen right here to anyone. The number one thing anyone can do is to tell someone they trust what is going on.”

Highest at Risk

Experts say the most dangerous time for the victim’s safety is when they are leaving an abusive relationship. Victims should create a secret safety plan prior to leaving and to never tell their abuser they are thinking of leaving. They can also seek help from their local domestic violence assistance program.

What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic Violence affects millions of women, men, and children, of every race, religion, culture, and economic status. It is not only physical, but emotional. It can include harassment, stalking, manipulation, coercion, yelling, humiliation, threats, isolation and more. These are our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors.

Harris County Domestic Violence Help

Victims can contact the crime victim assistance program in your county. The Crime Victim Assistance Unit number in Harris County is 713-274-9369. A Victim's Assistance unit can help victims with safety, shelter/housing assistance, protective orders, legal assistance and counseling.

Katy Domestic Abuse Help

Katy Christian Ministries also offers free, anonymous confidential services to those affected by domestic violence. The offer assistance with emergency shelter referrals or placement, crime victim compensation, protective orders, support and more. KCM has a 24/7 Hotline: 281-391-4504

More Common Than People Realize

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports there are over 2000 deaths in the US each year related to domestic violence - that's 5 deaths per day. The impact is far reaching with 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experiencing some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.

Pajama Party Donations for Victims

During the month of October, Harris County Constable Ted Heap in partnership with local Katy-area Starbucks will take Pajama donations to benefit women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

You may donate new women's and children's pajamas to these locations during October at these locations:

• Precinct 5 Station 7 - 541 S. Mason Rd.

• Katy Area Starbucks (call 281-578-2513 for participating locations)

• Precinct 5 Command - 17423 Katy Freeway • Precinct 5 Station 2 - 4503 Hickory Downs • Precinct 5 Station 3 - 1801 S. Dairy Ashford • Precinct 5 Station 5 & 6 - 10080 Cypress Creek Bend

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