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Domestic Violence Shelters Help Despite Limits

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – While North Texas domestic violence shelters say they are filled to capacity and, in some cases, over capacity, organizers want to stress that they never turn anyone away.

They say that the July 4 holiday usually has the most domestic violence incidents during the year. Shelters say that the number of residents normally spikes during the summer, but this year they started seeing increases back in April.

CBS 11 News is protecting its source’s identity because she and her children are hiding from her husband at a North Texas domestic violence shelter. “He would pull my hair so much that there would be gobs of hair in my hand when I brushed my hair. I had black eyes,” she said. “He spit in my face. I was choked.”

Now, the largest domestic violence shelters in the DFW area report that their facilities are overflowing. SafeHaven of Tarrant County’s two emergency shelters are entering their fourth week of reaching capacity. They have set up 10 cots in their gymnasium. Another shelter, the Family Place, even had to place people in a hotel because they did not have room at their facility.

“It’s very alarming, and it points to the level of domestic violence in our community,” said Annie Potasznik, communications coordinator at SafeHaven of Tarrant County. She said that SafeHaven saw a 20 percent increase of 245 more residents in June of this year compared to June of last year.

Family Place normally has 80 residents. But last week, the shelter had 106 people. There were 105 on Tuesday night.

The Genesis Women’s Shelter is usually at capacity. But organizers said that they have seen a 20 to 25 percent jump over last year for counseling services.

Potasznik said that it may be happening because of “the heat, the economy is terrible right now, and people are just stressed out.”

Area shelters say that they have called in more staffing and are calling for more volunteers to help.

The domestic violence victim CBS 11 News spoke with credits the shelter with saving her life. “You can be a survivor, you can overcome obstacles and boundaries. But it’s scary, too. Unless people have somewhere to go, they may not be able to survive it,” she said.

Again, area shelters have a crucial message: Even though they are full, they say they will never turn someone in need away. So, if you need help, they say you should still pick up the phone and call.

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