El Paso domestic violence shelter sees increased demand for services

EL PASO – Domestic violence reports are on the rise in Texas, which may be a sign that community education efforts are helping more victims to speak up. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s 2015 Texas Crime Report family violence incidents rose 4.9 percent in 2015. There were 194,872 reported incidents in 2015 compared to 185,817 in 2014. Figures for 2016 were not available in time for this article. Public safety agencies reported 5,382 incidents of domestic violence in El Paso county in 2015.

Sexual assault awareness project at UTEP encourages people to speak up

EL PASO – Organizers of a violence awareness project showcased throughout the UTEP campus this semester hope that students and visitors learn everyone is vulnerable to sexual assault and that everyone has a responsibility to hold people accountable. Hundreds of T-shirts emblazoned by art and anti violence messages were displayed at various busy locations on campus as part of the Clothesline Project launched in April for Sexual Assault Awareness month. According to the 2016 University of Texas at El Paso Annual Security and Fire Safety report, known as the Clery report, there were there were several incidents of sexual assault related offenses on campus from 2013-2015. During this three year period, there were four total reports of rape or forcible sex ofenses that occured in student housing – one rape was reported in 2015 and three forcible sex offenses were reported in 2013. The Clery report also states that there was one incident reported of fondling inside campus property in 2015, and an incident of fondling inside a student housing facility in 2014.

Scholarships help El Paso survivors of domestic abuse to further their education

EL PASO – Inside a small dark rectangular room inside a shelter for victims of domestic violence blocks from the border highway, a brown-haired woman in black slacks and black flats recently sat tensely on a couch next to a certificate and a single white rose. The woman, a single mother pursuing a college degree, had just received a $1000 award from the El Paso County Attorney’s Office toward completing her higher education. Speaking in a halting tone, she explained to the roomful of reporters that receiving the scholarship award was a “beautiful feeling” because “it gives me an opportunity to not stress about financially finding a way to continue my education. It allows me to look at what… I received and evaluate what I’ve gone through in my life and know that I am a survivor.”

The woman was one of six scholarship winners during a scholarship award ceremony held by the EL Paso County Attorney’s Office for survivors of domestic violence.

Texas sanctuary cities bill worries border community leaders

EL PASO – Lawmakers from this border community are concerned about the harm that would result if Texas begins requiring law enforcement and other agencies to act as immigration agents. The Texas Senate on Feb. 9 passed SB4, which Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, called “a thinly disguised attack on immigrant communities.”

The so-called “anti-sanctuary cities” bill would allow the state to penalize cities over policies that obstruct enforcement of immigration law or discourage police agencies from inquiring about a person’s immigration status. The Texas House is now considering its version of the bill. The senator says he, along with other opponents of the bill, offered amendments to decrease the negative impacts the passage of bill would have on health, safety and social life of communities.