EDINBURG — The entrance of the Edinburg Police Department was awash in the red and blue lights of police cars and firetrucks Wednesday night as members of the public holding purple balloons and electric candles gathered to hear speeches from domestic violence survivors and support organizations at the agency’s Domestic Violence Awareness Walk.
After hearing from the event’s speakers, the crowd embarked on a mile-long walk to the county courthouse. Police Chief Cesar Torres says it was the first time the department has hosted the event.
“We’ve never done it before, so I’m very amazed by our turnout,” he said.
Torres says the event was meant to serve several purposes.
“It was obviously to bring awareness to our victims that have passed away as a result of domestic violence, those that have beat it, and those that are currently going through it,” he said. “It’s hard to leave, it’s very hard, so we want them to know that there are programs in place to overcome this big problem we have across America.”
The event’s speakers addressed those issues, with groups like Mujeres Unidas, the Child Advocacy Center and Easter Seals discussing domestic violence and ways to end it. Uniformed members of the Edinburg police and fire departments also gave emotional accounts of their experiences with domestic abuse as children, including Edinburg Fire Chief Shawn Snider who gave a particularly personal account of his own experiences with domestic violence as a child when he was 7 years old.
“We lived with our mother and our stepfather, who was an extremely violent individual. He solved his problems by beating on my mother,” Snider told the crowd.
Snider and his brothers attempted to defend their mother from their stepfather, who he said beat them with furniture, belts and even the butt of a rifle.
“That continued up until I was in second grade, at 8 years old, and my mother made the most selfless act I have ever seen, which was to call our family in the Valley,” he said. “She gave them one day to pick us up.”
Snider remembers being yelled at and beaten again the day he left his mother and stepfather, but ultimately his story ended with a message of hope. Eight years after leaving his mother, Snider managed to find her again with the help of private investigators and said he convinced her to end the relationship.
“She was able to continue her life, until she passed away a couple of years ago. The message behind this is that my brother and I prevailed, and so did my mother, after the efforts of our family,” he said. “I saw some things that happened to me, especially my little brother and my mom, that should never happen to anybody in any way, shape, form or fashion, and I’m here to tell you after all these years that if you are a victim of violence you can prevail, and you can be a winner. You have to be strong. You have to be dedicated to your faith and your family, and you will prevail. I am a living example of that.”
Victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact Mujeres Unidas at (956) 630-4878 or Edinburg PD at (956) 289-7700.
Anyone in an emergency situation should call 9-1-1.