A new study on domestic violence in Dallas County shows that over five years, more than 100 people were killed by a spouse, significant other or date. It's called intimate partner violence.
The study also finds most of the victims didn't seek help before they were killed. Jan Langbein, CEO of the Genesis Women's Shelter in Dallas, offers her takeaways on the report.
On the reports findings: Of the 115 individuals that died during this period, 76 were the primary victim. Eighty-two percent of the primary victims were females, aged between 19 and 71. African-American women were at the highest risk of fatality — two times more likely than white women to die, four times more likely than Hispanic women to die.
But these numbers are not unique to Dallas County. This is pretty typical as we look across the country at other studies that are being done. Of the 76 murders, 51 percent were committed with guns. We know this, from national studies, that the presence of a gun during a violent incident, during an argument, can increase the risk of homicide by 500 percent.
On why victims don't seek help: I think about this all day long as CEO of Genesis Women's Shelter and Support here in Dallas. We're constantly trying to get the message out that if you or someone you know needs help, it's a phone call away. It is 214-946-HELP. But I wonder why did they not reach out for help? And when I first saw that study, what are we doing wrong? Why aren't we getting the word out? Why aren't people coming forward?
But, at the end of the day, what I don't know is how many people didn't die. I have to believe that where there is intersection with help, women don't die. So I'm flipping the outcome of this. But we do know that women are afraid to go to a shelter, or they think it's for poor people, or they're embarrassed, or they're afraid they will have to get a divorce, or it looks like the Superdome after [Hurricane] Katrina.
There are a hundred different reasons why today is not the day that I'll grab my children and go to a shelter. Before it ever gets that bad, places like Genesis have a counseling center. When the red flags show, and the symptoms first rear their ugly heads, then reach out for non-residential help for moms and for kids — no cost, no strings attached. It possibly could prevent that homicide.
The interview has been edited for clarity and length.