October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Every year, the Texas Council on Family Violence releases a report entitled "Honoring Texas Victims" that gives the latest available statistics for domestic violence or "intimate partner" killings and a brief narrative of the events surrounding each death. Last week, the council released the statistics for 2018. After two consecutive years of decline in the number of women killed by male intimate partners, 2018 saw the numbers jump to the highest level in a decade. Across the state, 174 women were killed by men who claimed to love them. Last year, the number was 136. The previous high was 158 in 2015.
In a departure from past practice, the council also released statistics about male victims and victims in same-sex relationships. In 2018, 32 men were killed by female intimate partners and 5 people, four men and one woman, were killed by same-sex partners. In total, 211 Texans were killed by intimate partners in 2018.
Moore County saw no fatal domestic violence incidents in 2018. There were two, one each in Randall and Castro Counties, in the rest of the Texas Panhandle.
Julianne Marie Samora, 22, of Amarillo, was stabbed to death by her husband, Jude Samora, 24, from whom she was separated at the time.
Mysti Amber Goddard, 32 of Dimmit in Castro County, was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend, Mark Longoria, 36. She left behind one child.
In addition to the targeted victims, incidents of intimate partner killings in 2018 left 29 additional persons injured and 26 killed. The collateral damage didn't end there. Some 324 children were left without parents.
According to the council's report, firearms remained the weapon of choice for those intent on killing an intimate partner. Most victims -- over 60 percent of both men and women -- died in the home. Though the age of victims ranged from a low of 16 to a high of 85, the most dangerous decade of life was between 30 and 39 years of age. One-third of female victims had ended the relationship with the men who ended up killing them.
Harris County, with 42 women and 9 men killed, led the state in intimate partner killings, followed by Bexar County, with 17 women and one man.
Though Moore County did not have an intimate partner killing in 2018, domestic violence remains a common and under-reported crime. Experts say intimate partner killings are almost always preceded by incidents of abuse and that those incidents increase in severity over time. The problem of domestic violence in the county was made more complicated this summer by the closing of Safe Place, Inc. Even with the shelter closed, the agency had at least one domestic violence vicim per week that part-time personnel had to transport to a shelter in Amarillo, according to President of the Board of Directors Michael Barr. The shelter is back open now and has begun providing services to victims, though the agency's long-term status is still unclear. Nevertheless, Moore County victims of domestic violence have resources they can access to keep them from becoming a statistic in future Honoring Texas Victims reports.
Domestic violence is a crime. One of the best ways for victims to get help is to call the police. If the situation is an emergency, call 911. In addition, Safe Place, Inc. has a hotline, 806-935-2828, that is manned 24 hours a day seven days a week. The National Domestic Violence Hotline operates around the clock, as well, and provides services and information in 170 languages. That number is 1-800-799-7233. They also have a website at www.thehotline.org, though they warn that computer use is not always the safest way to contact them.