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Most Victims Of Intimate Partner Violence In Dallas County Don't Seek Help, Study Finds

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Genesis Women's Shelter Facebook page
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Jan Langbein is CEO of the Genesis Women's Shelter in Dallas.

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.

Interview Highlights

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.

"There are a hundred different reasons why today is not the day that I'll grab my children and go to a shelter."

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.

Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.