Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of cases related to domestic violence soared.
Tarrant County’s Safe Haven said the number of intimate partner homicide victims doubled in 2020.
And though many of those involve women, a growing number of domestic violence victims are men.
The latest news from around North Texas.
And though it’s an often-overlooked group, North Texas is home to a one-of-a-kind program working to help.
Beginning in 2015, The Family Place saw a steep increase in calls from men in need of shelter.
After the costs of putting victims up in hotels became prohibitive, in 2017 the non-profit opened the doors of Texas’ first and only domestic violence shelter designated solely for men and their children.
CEO Paige Flink said they believe it’s the only shelter in the country that provides space for both.
“What we’ve seen is that men are the victims of domestic violence and we’ve also seen that men want help and certainly that they need help,” said Flink.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four men has experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. One in nine men experiences severe intimate partner physical violence.
Still, men often aren’t thought of as victims, even by those they must turn to for help.
“Very frequently, no one believes a man when he says my wife or my partner, my girlfriend hurt me, so that is something that we’ve had to overcome for the men as well as the police,” said Flink. “Additionally, there’s so much shame involved with being a man who can’t control his woman or can’t respond to a woman who is hurting him and also we as a society believe men should be strong, they shouldn’t feel, they shouldn’t cry, they shouldn’t be emotional, we’ve socialized men to feel that way. So the men themselves who come to us feel a lot of shame.”
One of the shelter’s residents, referred to here as John Doe for his safety, said it took multiple calls to the police for the abuse against him to be considered a real threat.
“It got to the point where I got tired of verbal abuse and physical abuse to where, literally at night, I would go to an upstairs bedroom and barricade myself in the room so that my wife couldn’t do anything else to me that night,” said Doe.
Eventually, it got to the point Doe walked out the door with nothing, not even his phone or cash, to escape to a nearby motel.
There, police provided him with some literature that directed him to The Family Place where he learned he’s far from alone.
“It’s real. It does happen. It doesn’t feel good, but there is help,” said Doe.
Flink said the program has remained near capacity since openings it’s doors.
In 2020, it provided shelter to 56 men and their children, transitional housing to five and counseling to another 83.
When it comes to curtailing the numbers, she said prevention is key, though she’s hopeful awareness will lead to more resources like those The Family Place provides.
“The most important thing you can do is say, ‘I care. No one should hurt you like that. How can I help you’?” said Flink.
Access to The Family Place shelters and other resources is available by calling the 24-Hour Hotline 214-941-1991.
Safe Haven's hotline can be reached at 1-877-701-7233.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.