Awareness is key in fight against violence
The Crisis Center of West Texas and Safe Place of the Permian Basin gathered community members to spread a message of solidarity at the Domestic Violence Awareness Month kick-off event Tuesday.
“I firmly believe that violence thrives in silence,” Victoria Martinez, Crisis Center Community Service Manager, said. “Hosting events like this allows the community to know that there are resources and that the community cares about these issues.”
Odessa Police Chief Mike Gerke said the community must get past any preconceived notions, never underestimate the trauma that victims have been through and help them in any way possible.
“Unfortunately Ector County and the city of Odessa have always been on the negative end of statewide domestic violence stats,” Gerke said. “From January to September of this year, the Odessa Police Department has responded to 1,219 incidents of domestic violence. That’s an average of 152 incidents a month, a little over five incidents a day.”
The event highlighted the story of Kelsi Miller, an Odessa woman that lost her life to domestic violence. Her mother, Debra Miller, attended the event and said October means reflecting back on her daughter’s life.
“On Oct. 7, 2008, I received the most devastating news that no parent ever wants to hear, and that was that my 22-year-old daughter Kelsi had been found dead with multiple gunshot wounds at the Spanish Oaks East Apartments here in Odessa,” Miller said. “The shock from this event will never fully be gone. This has forever changed our family structure and shattered our lives.”
Miller said a local mother reached out to her last August seeking support. The woman had lost her daughter to domestic violence as well. Miller quickly recognized the mother and realized that both of their daughters had been childhood friends and softball teammates.
Miller held up a photo of the two girls in their softball uniforms to the audience.
“As I looked at the picture, I couldn’t believe that there were nine girls on the team and two had been lost to domestic violence,” Miller said.
Miller said that domestic violence is a community-wide problem that is everyone’s responsibility. Speakers at the kick-off also emphasized the need for the community to come together in order to eradicate domestic violence.
Sheriff Mike Griffis said that “we’ll do what it takes to make our community better,” but the sheriff’s office also relies on cooperation from the community.
“If you know of ongoing abuse and you do nothing about it, you’re also part of the problem,” Gerke said.