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“It can happen to anyone”
“The more we talk about domestic violence, the more likely we will be able to spread awareness about it, be better able to identify abusive behavior and take active steps to fight it.”
La Salle County Judge Leodoro Martinez III opened a special event in the county’s district courtroom on Thursday, October 19, with an impassioned plea for recognition and improved education, intervention and prevention of domestic violence.
The presentation came during the county judge’s annual proclamation of October as Domestic Violence Awareness & Prevention Month, and Martinez was joined by the county’s elected officials, government staff, emergency responders, law enforcement officers, county jailers, civic organizations, advocates, shelter staff, and school district representatives in celebrating a united front against physical, psychological and sexual abuse in the home.
“Every so often, we gather together to celebrate joyous occasions,” the judge said. “Today’s occasion represents a different type of gathering, a day of commemoration as we observe October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“Domestic violence has been on the rise,” Judge Martinez added, “without a fall anywhere in sight. Domestic violence does not discriminate. It is not about size or strength, culture or gender. It doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman; abuse is abuse.
“It happens all around the world, and it can happen to anyone,” he added, “but a victim should never feel as if it is their fault.”
Joining the judge at the podium were County Attorney Elizabeth Martinez, who said her office handles cases of domestic abuse every day; and members of the Woman’s Club of Cotulla, which has advocated for abuse victims and helped spread awareness of the issue facing the community.
Also present were administrators and staff of the Wintergarden Women’s Shelter, a facility that provides immediate rescue and safe lodging for those who have been abused in the home or by their partners.
La Salle County Sheriff Anthony Zertuche brought his officers and staff to the event to join members of the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol and the La Salle Fire Rescue as representatives of those who may be first on the scene at incidents of abuse or neglect in the home, or who may routinely handle such cases in the community.
The county judge’s official proclamation echoed the words of other county governments across the region likewise designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness & Prevention Month, including a statement on the breadth and effect of abuse, which he said “violates an individual’s privacy, dignity, security and humanity due to the systemic use of physical, emotional, sexual, psychological and economic control.”
The proclamation notes that domestic violence costs the nation billions of dollars annually in medical expenses, law enforcement and court costs, shelters, foster care, sick leave and absenteeism.
“Events like this bring awareness to our community,” the county judge said. “It is organizations like the Woman’s Club of Cotulla who take action and share their knowledge.”
The proclamation used by county governments includes a call to action by the general public and by those in positions of authority.
“I call upon the people to work together toward eliminating domestic violence, improving victim safety and holding perpetrators of domestic abuse accountable for their violence against individual victims and our society as a whole,” the county judge read.
“None of us can solve this crisis alone,” Martinez added from his own presentation at the event. “But by working together, by using every tool at our disposal and by refusing to ever back down or give up, we can make a real difference in our homes, our communities and our nation.”