A new report out this month from Tarrant County and Safe Haven shows a dramatic jump in the number of people killed by their partners in 2020.
There were eight domestic violence-related deaths in 2019 and 17 in 2021. The CEO of Safe Haven said that is the highest number on record. Advocates and survivors like Audria Maltsberger are working to connect victims with resources before it’s too late.
Maltsberger is a proud mother of three. As often as possible, she gushes over her kids, a rising high school senior, a new homeowner and college student. She said they’re also proud of her for the courage she showed that put them on the path to the happy, healthy lives they have today.
“They've learned that, you know, life can fall apart. But it's what you do. You don't stay there, you get back up,” said Maltsberger.
This month marks 14 years since she walked away from an abusive marriage
“The abuse just got to the point where I was hospitalized. And it took broken bones for me to realize that it wasn't going to get better,” she said. ” When we left, I left with a laundry basket of clothes, my kids and my car.”
She drove from south Texas to Safe Haven of Tarrant County.
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”They had counseling, housing, they helped us with Medicaid. They helped us put all the pieces together,” she said.
Safe Haven President and CEO Kathryn Jacob says their mission is to wrap their arms and services around people trying to find freedom from domestic violence.
The nonprofit served over 2600 women and children in 2020, providing shelter, legal help and counseling.
Jacob says calls increased dramatically during the pandemic
”Unemployment can be a big catalyst for domestic violence, we saw a whole bunch of that,” said Jacob.
The nonprofit’s newly released fatality review shows more than twice as many people were killed by their partners in 2020 than the year before.
“None of the 17 victims came through Safe Haven. And that is sad. Because this is what we are here for,” said Jacob.
She says a victim’s chance of leaving safely increases if they do so with the help of an advocate. And that's why she's working to get out the word about their services and sharing stories of survivors like Maltsberger. She is back at Safe Haven as a volunteer. She shares her story and educates children, working to end the cycle.
“I just want to share hope, that my world fell apart. My kids went through hell. But there is hope,” said Maltsberger.
Organizations are drawing attention to the issue and highlighting local available resources during domestic violence awareness month.
We know domestic violence can happen at anytime, in any community and any family. If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the Safe Haven hotline 1-877-701-7233 or the national hotline at 1-800-799-(SAFE) 7233
Advocates will help you create a safety plan. You can also download one from the nonprofit’s website.