A coordinated response to domestic violence & sexual assault

An effort to improve response and provide accurate information to victims of domestic violence or sexual assault is underway in the Texas Panhandle (Drew Powell ABC 7 News)

District Attorney’s, judges, members of law enforcement and people who work for crisis centers in the Texas Panhandle converged at the Center for Access and Information at Frank Phillips College for a conference. The one-day conference titled “Keeping Families Safe” is a coordinated response to domestic violence and sexual assault.

“They take more of a multiple disciplinarian approach where you have to address it differently from law enforcement all the way through the prosecution and through the judges,” said Mark Snider, District Attorney for 84th District. “These cases are by near nature completely different than anything else we deal with.”

“Many of us deal with a wide variety of laws and so it’s just good to get a refresher on this particular area of the law,” said James Mosley, Judge for 316th District.

One of the organizers of the event, Norma Luginbyhl who is the executive director of the Hutchinson County Crisis Center (HC3) tells ABC 7 News the conference will help people who attended come away with a better understanding of Protective Orders and new laws impacting family violence victims passed by the 85th Texas Legislature.

“It’s getting those to help that victim safely,” said Norma Luginbyhl, executive director of HC3. “If were not all on the same page that victim is not going to get that protective order, she’s not being kept safe. When that happens the process is not working so were working to coordinate and help victims in the future.”

District Attorney Mark Snider tells ABC 7 News compounding the challenge of providing help and protective services through the legal channels is the public doesn’t understand why a woman stays with an abuser or in some cases waits to report an incident of abuse.

“The biggest issue is the education of the public and how the victims react to these type of crimes,” said Snider. “In some cases they don’t tell for years and that’s a big issue we deal with in these cases.”

“Most of the laws are getting strengthened with the increase amount of violence we have in our country,” said Dan Looten, Carson County Judge. “The more awareness we have with sexual violence, family violence the laws are closing up some loopholes we have. A lot of this legislation is strengthening the current laws that we have.”

Organizers are hoping to add a second conference to help improve their efforts. Speakers from a number of agencies that help victims of domestic violence or sexual assault spoke to the audience to inform them legal options, immigration options and to discuss the when, where and how from the start of the call throughout prosecution.

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