POLICE Department

Family Violence Unit - The Problem of Family Violence

According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is common.  It affects millions of people in the United States each year.  About 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime and reported some form of IPV-related impact.  (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention 2021 Fact Sheet)

The Texas Uniform Crime Reporting (UCE), in 2020, law enforcement officers in Texas responded to 218,950 incidents of family violence, a 10% increase from 198,899 in 2019; with approximately 60,000 of these incidents identified as intimate partner violence.  Fourteen percent of family violence assaults were classified as aggravated assaults, typically involving weapons, strangulation, or other serious and injurious assaults.  From 2019 to 2020, there was an 80% increase in assaults against law enforcement officers while responding to family violence calls. 

Family violence is a crime and is treated as a crime by the Family Violence Unit. The crime of family violence or what is commonly called, domestic abuse, is committed by someone known to the victim intimately, by blood, or any other special relationship. Family violence is a complex issue.

The 2021 Harris County Health and Relationship study conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch and Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council found that of their survey participants impacted by domestic violence the majority who seeking help, sought the help from a friend or family member.  Educating ourselves about the dynamics of family violence will clearly make a difference in the lives of victims, someone you know is a victim, or if you yourself are a victim.     
Family violence does not distinguish between age, race, religion, social standing, economic, educational level, sexual orientation, or gender; anyone can become a victim. Family violence is a social problem shared by all people within our community.

The United Nations- What is Domestic Abuse?  Family Violence, also called "domestic violence" or "intimate partner violence", can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain power and control over an intimate partner.  Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.  This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone.  Victims of domestic abuse may also include a child or other relative, or any other household member.  Family Violence is typically manifested as a pattern of abusive behavior toward an intimate partner in a dating or family relationship, where the abuser exerts power and control over the victim.           

We may ask, "Why doesn't she/he leave?" victims of domestic violence tolerate the abuse for various reasons. They may feel shame, embarrassment, and helplessness. They are afraid to confide the problem to others or seek help outside of the home for fear of retaliatory acts by the abuser. The good news is, abused victim/survivors do eventually leave for good. Abused domestic violence victims sometimes leave and return to the abuser an average of 7 times. Once they do leave, many become victims of harassment and stalking, especially in the workplace. The violence continues even though they have taken the necessary steps to remain safe.  The question to ask is, "Why doesn't the abuser stop the violence?"
Leaving the abusive relationship does not guarantee safety.  39% of victims murdered had made attempts to or were planning to end their relationship.  67% of victims murdered were killed in their homes. (TCFV-Texas Victims-Family Violence Fatalities in 2020)    

Male and female relationships are commonly discussed in the context of family violence, however in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender relationships (LGBT), the dynamics are similar but there are additional factors. For example, if the victim of abuse chose not to reveal their lifestyle to their family, friends, or co-workers, the violent partner may threaten to "out" their partner, or in other words, disclose their lifestyle to others as a means of control, keeping the abuse from being revealed. To gain perspective in the LGBT relationships, simply reporting the abuse is an obstacle in and of itself due to the stigma present in our society. Victims who choose to report the abuse to law enforcement perceive they will be treated with insensitivity. The Lesbian Task Force of the Texas Council on Family Violence nevertheless reported that 25% of Lesbian and Gay relationships are abusive.