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How common is domestic violence and dating violence?

It is estimated that 1 in 4 women in the U. S. will be victimized by an intimate partner in her lifetime.
The worlwide estimate is that 1 in 3 women will be victimized.
Estimates for dating violence for U. S. teens state that 1 in 5 high school relationships include physical and sexual violence.
Women between the ages of 16 and 24 are most at risk for intimate partner 
According to statistics gathers through Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV), in 2006 in the state of Texas:

  • 120 women and 6 children were killed in Texas because of domestic violence.
    • 76 were shot, 17 were stabbed, 12 were strangled, 9 were beaten with hands and 5 were killed by some other weapon or means of death.
    • 25 women were estranged, separated, divorced or had broken the relationship with the perpetrator prior to being killed.
    • 29 women were dating the perpetrator and 66 women were married or in a common law married with the perpetrator at the time of death.
    • The youngest victim killed was 14 years old and the oldest was 68 years old.
    • The women were from Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic and African-American ethnicities.

In 2005, TCFV reported:

  • 11,996Adults received shelter from their abusive relationships
  • 17,105children received shelter

In a 2002 Texas phone survey, 75% of all Texans report that they would be likely to call the police if they were to experience some form of domestic violence. Yet only 20% indicated that they actually did call the police when they or a family member experienced domestic violence.

For more statistics on domestic violence, go to:
(Family Violence Prevention Fund) at

 Center for Disease Control

 U. S. Department of Justice

American Bar Assaociation

What are the Texas laws against domestic violence and dating violence?

Until 1984, Texas had no specific statute regarding domestic violence.  When domestic violence is referred in the law it is stated as “family violence.”  There is no one clear set of laws about domestic violence in Texas.  The codes are being updated and added with each legislation session.  The following link is the most comprehensive listing of laws in Texas that address domestic violence or dating violence.



Why Should You Seek Help for Intimate Partner Violence?

Medical Help

Domestic violence, particularly physical and sexual violence, can have both short-term and long-term consequences that can diminish a person’s physical wellbeing.  Injuries left untreated can heal turn into chronic pain, and actually grow worse over time.
Physical effects of domestic violence can include:

  • Broken bones
  • Cuts and abrasion
  • Lost of hearing
  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Back injury
  • Chronic headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Chest pain
  • Numbness and joint pain
  • Pelvic and vaginal injuries
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

Emotional Help

Since emotional abuse is the most pervasive and often some of the most damaging of abuses, seeking emotional help through counseling can help victims reclaim lost self-esteem, rebuild resilience and restore self-worth.  Friends of the Family and Project [REV] have counselors specifically trained in the safety and recovery from domestic and dating violence.

Some of the emotional effects of domestic and dating violence include:

  • Loss of self-worth
  • Feeling of hopelessness and despair
  • Depression and thoughts of suicide
  • Anger and rage
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Alcohol and drug use to numb emotional and physical pain
  •   Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms of
    • Nightmare
    •  Flashbacks
    • Mentally reliving the experience
    • Body memory
    • Inability to concentrate on daily activities
    • Emotional numbness
    • Blackouts
    • Sleeplessness
    • Hyper vigilance 

Legal Help

Seeking legal help can increase the level of safety that a victim has.  There are several levels of legal help available

Law Enforcement

The State of Texas has a wide variety of laws to help protect victims of domestic violence. Many local jurisdictions have pro-arrest policies designed to get the perpetrator of violence away from the victim as quickly as possible. Victims are encouraged by police to immediately file for an emergency protective order to insure that the police can protect at the level of safety.  Without protective orders, police cannot help victims take care of important matters of safety. Despite this, it is often perceived that law enforcement officers are not interested in helping victims.  This is often not the case but the perception remains.

Justice System 

Denton County Friends of the Family and The Denton County District Attorney’s office offers victim’s assistance for filing temporary and permanent protective orders and applying for Crime Victim’s Compensation.

What is a Protective Order?

According to the Texas Attorney General’s information on protective orders (, “a protective order is a civil court order issued to prevent continuing acts of family violence. 

Family violence is defined as any act by one member of a family or household intended to physically harm another member, a serious threat of physical harm, or the abuse of a child.

Family included blood relatives or relatives by marriage, former spouses, parents (married or not) of the same child, foster parents and foster children, or any member or former member of a household (people living in the same house, related or not)”

A protective order is a civil court order that is enforced by the criminal and family courts.  In the state of Texas, a protective order is not a restraining order. A protective order is different from a restraining order in some very key ways. A protective order can be enforced by police.  The offender can be arrested for violating it.  A restraining order cannot be enforced by law enforcement.  The person holding the restraining order must go before the issuing judge to seek compliance. A protective order is a free, legal document.  Applying for one is free.  A restraining order requires an attorney and usually involves court costs.

  It is imperative that you ask for a protective order and not a restraining order.

How can a Protective Order help?

A protective order may prohibit the offender from:

  • Committing further acts of family violence.
  • Harassing or threatening the victim, either directly or indirectly by communicating the threat through another person.
  • Going to or near a school or day-care center that a child protected under attends.

In some situations, a protective order may also include orders to: prohibit transfer or disposal of property, establish possession and visitation of a child, pay child or spousal support for a period not to exceed one year, attend mandatory counseling, vacate the residence or other specified property, if certain conditions are met.

These additional provisions are not criminally enforceable.  A person who violates them is not immediately arrested, but may be taken to civil court, found in contempt, fined and jailed.

Who is eligible for a Protective Order?

If the courts finds that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur again, a protective order may be issued.  To obtain a protective order, the victim and the offender must be (1) related by blood or marriage, (2) living together, or previously lived together, (3) have a child together, or (4) currently or previously dating.

A person who has a divorce pending is eligible for a protective order.  The protective order must be filed in the court in which the divorce is pending.

How Can I get a Protective Order?

You can apply for a protective order through the district or county attorney, a private attorney, through a legal aid service program or through a victim service provider such as Denton County Friends of the Family.  Some police departments also provide a victim advocate who can assist with protective orders.  The application must be filed in the county in which you or the offender lives. There are no minimum time limits to establish residency, and protective orders are available in every county in Texas.

Our counselor from Denton County Friends of the Family is available at Project REV to help with the Protective Order Application process on campus.  You can also contact Denton County Friends of the Family to speak to a victim advocate at 817.387.5131.

Also, Project REV in cooperation with the Denton County District Attorney’s Office is providing monthly seminars about protective orders and a victim advocate will be able to answer questions about protective orders and other legal issues dealing with domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.  Contact Project REV at 940-898-2744 or email for information about these monthly seminars.

How Long Does it Take to Receive and How Long Does it Remain in Effect?

Unless a later date is requested by the applicant, the court shall set a hearing date no later than 14 days after the application is filed.  If, however, the court finds from the information captained in the application that there is a clear and present danger of family violence, the court may immediately issue a temporary ex parte order.  The temporary order is valid for up to 20 days.  Final protective orders are effective for up to one year.

What Happens if the Protective Order is Violated?

Call the police immediately!  Remember, protective orders do no offer complete protection.  No piece of paper can protect you from all instances of violence.

Law enforcement agencies are notified of all protective orders issued in their area and they are required to maintain a list of those orders.  If an offender violates the order and law enforcement is notified, officials will act to arrest the offender and seek to have charges filed.  If a person violates the protective order in the presence of law enforcement, the offender must be arrested immediately.  In cases involving the violation of a protective order, including an ex parte order, the offender may be punished for contempt of court by a fine of as much as $500 or up to six months in jail or both.  In cases of violation, excluding ex parte orders, the offender may be punished by a fine of as much as $4,000 or jail for up to one year or both.

What happens to the Protective Order if I Move?

Protective orders issued in one state are recognized in all 50 states.  The protective order goes with you when you move.  You will probably be required to notify local law enforcement in you new area of the protective order.

            For more information on protective orders, please visit Texas Attorney General’s website,, or contact Denton County Friends of the Family at 1-800-572-4031.


How Do I Help a Friend Who is in an Abusive Relationship?

  • “I am concerned for your safety.”  These are the first words of help you can say.  Encourage your friend to think about developing a safety plan.
  • Educate yourself about the dynamics of an abusive relationship.  Once you understand how the relationship is constructed, you can be more realistic in your own expectations for your friend. 
  • Assure the friend that violence is a choice that the abuser makes.
  • Assure him/her that the violence is NOT his/her fault.
  • Affirm the positive choices your friend makes.
  • Urge your friend to seek crisis care through Project REV, Denton County Friends of the Family or other domestic violence agencies if your friend lives outside the area.  Find the crisis numbers for the agency closest to your friend on the National Domestic Violence Hotline website (  Have the number with you when you speak to your friend.
  • Do not tell your friend to leave the relationship!  Leaving an abusive relationship can be very dangerous.  Safety planning must be done before leaving is an option.
  • Listen, listen, listen.
  • Avoid verbal attacks against the abuser. “He’s a loser.”  “She’s nuts.”  “That guy is no good.”  If you attack the abusive partner, you may find friend jumping to his/her defense.  When you attack the abuser, the victim may feel as if you are attacking her choice in a partner.  It can make your friend feel as if she/he is stupid.
  • Avoid language that blames the victim.  Saying things such as, “you sure can pick them” or “I can’t believe you stayed this long” can only make your friend feel worse than before.  
  • Help your friend make his/her own choices.  You may not agree with the choices your friend makes.  However, it is important that your friend begin reestablishing control over his/her life.  Choices and decisions are very limited in abusive relationships.  Encouraging decision making very important.
  • Do not give up on your friend.  Someone experiencing domestic violence will make choices that to others may seem irrational.  He/she may return to a relationship time and time again.  This can be frustrating to bystanders and caring friends and loved ones.  Keep your relationship door open even if it seems hopeless.  You may just be the only lifeline of hope your friend seems to have.

Important Things to Consider for Yourself as a Friend or Bystander

  • Keep yourself safe.  You may feel like offering safe harbor for your friend.  It seems like a loving thing to do.  This can be dangerous for you and your family.  When an abuser feels as if he/she is losing control over the partner, he/she will many times not hesitate to harm anyone or anything that stands between him/her and the partner.  A secure, domestic violence shelter is very valuable to a victim and the loved ones until a safety plane is reached.
  •  You have not walked in your friend’s shoes.  The temptation you may have is to fix the problem for your friend.  You cannot fix this problem.  The friend must find solutions for himself/herself with a strong safety net underneath.  You can be part of that supportive safety net.  Project REV, Denton County Friends of the Family and other resources are also here to give much needed support.
  • If your friend does not leave the relationship and all seems to have quieted down, do not assume your friend is safe.  Domestic violence relationships are marked with erratic, unpredictable and random outbursts of violence.  Although things are quiet today, they may not be safe tomorrow.  The violence usually escalates with time.  Continue to remind your friend of your concern for his/her safety.
  • It takes courage to confront violence.  The repercussions to violence are pervasive.  Domestic violence affects us all.  Standing back and not getting involved at all only makes the abuser believe that the violence is acceptable.  Be safe in how you confront violence.  Use compassion.  It can change lives.


page last updated 6/19/2015 2:48 PM