Story by: Roxie Bustamante
SAN ANTONIO — As domestic violence continues to rise in Bexar County, the District Attorney’s office is bringing in more prosecutors and resources to its family violence unit.
The Family Violence Unit, once operated under another crime unit, will now stand alone. The District Attorney’s office increasing the staffing for the unit by 62 percent to cover the increasing number of family violence cases.
Crystal Chandler, executive director of the Bexar County Family Justice Center, said this shows the district attorney recognizes the need to increase staff, but also spotlights the importance of the family justice center and all the free resources it provides to victims of abuse.
“Many of those victims, they may come over to this center and seek a protective order, so by knowing that their criminal case is going to be moving faster, it alleviates the anxiety,” Chandler said.
Last year, the center provided services for 3,885 people. Through the PO Division of the D.A.’S office and Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, the center helped more than 3,300 people with protective order applications.
“District Attorney Gonzales and I are currently working on assessing the services that we have available at the Protective Order Unit that is housed here [at the Family Justice Center] and looking for ways to increase it, just like the felony Family Violence Unit, by perhaps adding additional prosecutors, advocates, and investigators so that those applications for protective orders can be processed even faster,” Chandler said.
She said it’s all part of a holistic approach to address the domestic and family violence in our community.
“We’re moving in the right direction, but we need to continue doing so,” Chandler said. “We need to continue recognizing that this is an issue that is affecting our community on so many levels, and if we’re not able to address it effectively, then we’re doing a disservice to future generations.”
The center provides food, counseling, and legal services for victims and their families all in one centralized location. To learn more, click here.