Violence awareness month, victims speak out

By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Jobless rates aren't the only thing on the rise. East Texas Crisis Center says family violence has also gone up. The number of Texas women killed by an intimate partner has risen 30 percent over the past two years. October is National Violence Awareness Month, and victims are speaking out. One survivor shares her battle.

"He would go straight for the throat and choke you to the point of where you pass out," said Michelle Johnson.

She was a victim of domestic violence and says she was nothing more than a possession.

"When we got married it was like I was his possession then," said Johnson. "He could treat me anyway he wanted to treat me. He would always tell me I deserved it. I deserved to be beat on. I deserved to be cheated on."

Johnson's story is not uncommon. In fact, the Texas crisis centers say family violence is on the rise. Nearly 140 Texas women were killed by an intimate partner in 2008, a number up 30 percent from the year before.

"We are almost at full capacity pretty much every day of the week," said Becky Henderson, with the East Texas Crisis Center.

Henderson says five of the women killed last year were from Smith County. What's part of the problem? The economy.

"You bring in the economic crisis that is going on, and maybe he has lost his job, and so there is another control factor," explained Henderson. "Something that is out of his control. So maybe he is going to dominate or control the situations he can."

Whatever the cause, Johnson says it is never the victim's fault.

"But, I found out I was not the cause of the problem," she said. "I was the victim."

And, Henderson says don't be afraid to seek help.

"The truth is that unless somebody intervenes, he is not going to change," said Henderson.

In an effort to shine a light on abuse, these women urge others to speak out. Johnson says her abuser was eventually arrested and spent 35 days in jail.

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