DALLAS — About 5,000 people showed up to rally against domestic violence on Saturday at Dallas City Hall Plaza.
But Mayor Mike Rawlings says he's already gearing up for the next big part of his project — encouraging women to report abuse. That discussion continued before a City Council committee on Monday.
Saturday's rally not only increased public awareness, but also the hope that men and boys can make the cultural changes to end it.
After six months, however, data from a new police program to get domestic victims out of harm's way shows a lot of work is yet to be done.
"The critical percentages are staying the same; the fear of being killed, being choked, being controlled," Dallas Assistant Police Chief Cynthia Villarreal told the city's Public Safety Committee. "It also shows that the victims are still staying together [with the abuser.]"
Figures show 52 percent of those in Dallas domestic violence cases under the Lethality Assessment Program choose to stay with the batterer. Even with the higher risk of injury or death, the lure to stay and not break up a marriage or family remain strong.
Dallas City Council member Sandy Greyson said she's not surprised.
"These women are so beaten down. They are beaten down psychologically, emotionally," she said. "They're abused in a number of different ways [and] it makes it very, very hard for them to leave."
But under this new intervention program, the responding officer to a domestic violence call no longer just tells the victim about how to contact a shelter. The officer — using a police cell phone — calls The Family Place (214-941-1991) or Genesis Women's Shelter (214-946-4357) and hands it to the victim.
"They actually get them with a counselor immediately," Villarreal said. "I mean, they actually call the hotline right then and there and say, 'Will you please talk with this counselor?'"
Police hope with time more victims will take advantage of the police and shelter resources, leading to fewer injuries... and fewer lives lost.