EDINBURG — Dozens of Hidalgo County officials, advocates and community members huddled Tuesday in a sea of purple to stand together against domestic violence.
More than 30 people donned purple shirts in honor of the third annual Purple Day, an event hosted by the Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s office and the Hidalgo County Family Violence Task Force that aims to raise awareness and connect the community with resources during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The ceremony outside the Hidalgo County Courthouse comes two days after a Peñitas woman was allegedly bludgeoned to death by her common-law husband.
Every year, 1.3 million women suffer violence at the hands of their intimate partners. That equals to about 3,869 women per day or the equivalent of three women suffering a form of family violence every minute, according to the National Crime Victims Coalition.
Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez said the event recognizes those who work to bring awareness to the issue.
“We feel that for too long it was silent — nobody wanted to talk about it,” Rodriguez said. “But we want to show the community and everybody out there that’s been affected somehow, someway or is being affected, that we’re here. We want you to know that we’re going to stand up and speak against domestic violence and get that message out to the people that we’re not going to put up with it.”
In 2015, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s office responded to 1,852 calls for family violence and about 5,505 cases were reported to other local law enforcement agencies in Hidalgo County.
Estella De Anda, executive director for Mujeres Unidas/Women Together, said she’s seen progress when compared to her first years with the organization.
“It’s a different story — the face of domestic violence — when you see the children crying; when you see the children trembling; when you see the children being sick in the shelter because they’re so frightened about what goes on in the family,” De Anda said. “Last year, we served 700 women and children through our facility.”
“I have a dream that one of these days, they would no longer need our agency; nobody deserves to be oppressed and abused in our own home where they should be the safest,” De Anda added.
More than one in three Texas women are victims of domestic violence, and more than 100 women lose their lives in domestic violence murders each year, according to the Texas Council on Family Violence.
Aaron Setliff, public policy director of the Texas Council on Family Violence, was invited to attend the event and spoke about prevention.
“Only by knowing domestic violence and knowing the numbers, can we predict the statistics, the dynamics and the stories of survivors…when violence is going to happen and then thereby prevent it,” Setliff said. “In Hidalgo (County) alone, in 2016 there were four women killed by their intimate partner, and altogether, they left eight children without their mothers.”
As part of the initiative, Hidalgo County commissioners presented a proclamation to the district attorney’s office and Purple Day participants, declaring October 2017 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.