Later this evening, those driving past the Kerr County Courthouse in Kerrville will notice a purplish-tint to the building.
Domestic violence awareness is the reason for the color. It’s that simple. The building will remain lit for the rest of the week.
For decades, Americans have been persistently troubled by domestic violence of varying degrees. So much so that it’s considered a public-health issue by the Centers for Disease Control. A pair of University of Louisville researchers described the problem in these terms:
“Approximately 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men 18 years of age or older experience domestic violence,” wrote researchers Martin Huecker and William Smock. Annually, domestic violence is responsible for over 1,500 deaths in the United States.”
That same issue still grips many families and couples in the Hill Country.
“There is help and support available, whether that’s for just an understanding ear, or something as complex as a protective order,” said Kim Olden, the director of trauma informed services at the Hill Country Crisis Council, a non-profit group formed in 1984 to help deal with domestic violence issues in the region.
After decades of education and awareness, the Hill Country Crisis Council finds itself continually busy, and it also provides shelter services to women and children. The shelter is almost always full.
“I think we started hearing the stories enough to recognize that this is a public health problem,” Olden said. “The highest percentage of domestic violence is men abusing women, but there are women abusers and in gay and lesbian relationships, of course, there is abuse there.”
In fact, same-sex relationship abuse wasn’t even tracked in the FBI’s criminal reporting databases until 2016.
The awareness factor has been heightened but it still hasn’t solved the problem. The National Domestic Abuse Hotline described the it this way:
“Domestic violence does not discriminate. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together or who are dating. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.”
Olden, for one, still sees the same sort of problems she has for years, and it’s defined pattern of behavior, which often includes the abuser blaming the victim.
“A very prevalent dynamic in an abusive relationship is the victim is made to feel that it’s their fault, or they’re going crazy,” Olden said. “A lot of times a victim doesn’t clearly understand what’s going on.”
For agencies like Hill Country Crisis Council it’s the ongoing cycle of education that has to be done to bring awareness to the problem.
“A lot of victims will stay because of finances, a lot of victims will stay because of children and a lot of victims will stay because they’ve been told if you leave ‘I’m going to do this, this and this,” Olden said.