In 2017 the YWCA commissioned a report looking at the status of women in Lubbock county. Sadly the results weren’t surprising and it highlighted some pretty big issues in our community. KTTZ teamed up with the YWCA to tell the stories reflected inside and outside of this report.
This ten-part series is the first of its kind here at KTTZ, a debut, deep dive into obstacles people in our community face. On this first episode of Beyond the Report: The Status of Women in Lubbock, we meet Kristen Windham. Kristen found herself living in a nightmare when her marriage to a former police officer turned violent immediately following their wedding. She describes the night that violence nearly took a deadly turn and convinced her to find a way out.
“He went to the closet and got the gun out,” she recalls, “and that’s when he put up to my head and told my mom you better hang up the phone. I just remember thinking this is it. He’s either going to kill us or hurt us really badly because he was in such a rage.”
Steven Garcia is with the Women’s Protective Services. He describes some interesting statistics about the Lubbock shelter,” Our shelter in Lubbock, is the third largest shelter in Texas. That says something about the amount of violence that’s taking place.”
In 2018 there were 4,555 cases of domestic violence reported in Lubbock County. According to Garcia, that number tends to stick around the four thousands annually and he’s got a few ideas about why that is.
“Statistically speaking we know that domestic violence is so underreported and Lubbock is certainly not the third largest city in the state,” Garcia says. “Being West Texans I think there’s a belief that we’re different than a lot of the parts of the state. We take pride in being friendly, but on the dark side of that, there’s a lot of secrecy. That’s a private matter, that’s a family matter.”
The night Kristen’s husband pulled a gun on her was not the first time she had to call 911 on him. And like other nights before this event, according to Kristen, the officers didn’t take her seriously. Like we mentioned before, her husband was a former police officer. His father was also a retired police officer. Often times the officers who showed up on their doorstep had known her husband since he was a child.
“Being in law enforcement, it’s a very close knit brotherhood. There would be times where they would show up and tell us well ya’ll just need to get along, meanwhile, I’m in tears and I have marks on my face and on my neck. They would see it but it was never acknowledged,” Kristen recalls. “I felt defeated every time, like they weren’t taking me serious…It was hard. I felt hopeless. I felt lost. And I just lost who I was overtime.”
Kristen eventually did leave her husband. Their marriage lasted only a year, but the physical and emotional abuse she endured, which her children witnessed, was nearly constant. Now, outside of that relationship, she’s had to learn how to talk with her sons about healthy relationships. And she strives to share her story with others in similar situations.
“I realized I don’t have to be just another statistic. There are things I can do to help women. And I very much want to be a part of a community that is there to be supportive,” she say.
Steven Garcia has ideas of his own on how to combat that issues, “I think the more that we’re willing to open up about it and we’re willing to accept our faults, but we’re willing to fix it. I think would go a long way in bringing the numbers down.”
For anyone living in an abusive situation, Kristen has this to say to them: “The most important thing is to know that your life is invaluable and your voice matters. There is a way to get out and you’re not alone.”
To Watch Kristen's full story, go to BeyondtheReportLBK.com.