Friday’s announcement by the Nueces County District Attorney’s Office of its new domestic violence bureau was a surprise to the leader of The Purple Door, which was formerly known as the Women’s Shelter of South Texas.
The organization has previously worked with the DA’s Office on efforts to curb domestic violence in our community. That includes the creation of the pre-trial diversion program to educate first-time offenders in lieu of jail time. But Frances Wilson, president and CEO of The Purple Door, says there haven’t been many talks between the two sides since those early conversations.
"We really aren’t in close contact with the DA’s office on a regular basis regarding pre-diversion or a batterers program," Wilson tells KRIS 6 News. Still, she says she’s encouraged by the creation of the new domestic violence bureau, in light of DA Mark Gonzalez saying his office "has failed in seeking and getting convictions for domestic violence."
Wilson said, "I’m glad to see that he’s saying, ‘Hey, this isn’t working.’ He knows that people are watching him and his office and I’d like to think that this is a step towards trying to fix the problem."
However, Wilson says she had a major concern while listening to the news conference announcing the new unit.
"I still felt like the conversation always led back to the burden being on the victim — that the victim is still the one that needs to make sure that they move forward with the case and that they’re going to be there to testify," she explained. "There’s just a myriad of reasons that a victim might not want to go forward that I think that we’ve got to remove that burden from the victim."
Wilson also says there are no easy solutions when it comes to handling domestic violence cases, and she applauds the efforts of the DA’s office so far.
"It’s a big problem to get your arms around and so I don’t want anybody to think that this is some easy thing that he ought to be able to fix like that."
But Wilson would like to have more talks about pursuing these cases without those who’ve already endured the physical and mental toll of abuse.
"You’re not always going to win every domestic violence case or sexual assault case when you move forward without a victim. But the reality is it’s still, in my opinion, the right thing to do."
During Friday’s press conference, Assistant District Attorney Matt Manning said the office will as many cases as possible without the victim’s cooperation.