AZLE — “Abuse is subtle; it’s like a rattlesnake slithering through the grass,” Future, Hope and Healing Center board member Kathy Rankin said. “You don’t know it’s there until you hear the sound.”
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and advocates around the country are wearing purple in support of victims. At an Oct. 3 Azle Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon, leadership of the Future, Hope and Healing Center and Hope’s Bazaar spoke out about domestic violence in the Azle community after being introduced with a proclamation from Mayor Pro Tem Randa Goode.
“It’s important to be aware,” Executive Director Sally Daniels said. “It’s important to understand that domestic violence is not just a family issue, it’s a community issue. People in the community are affected whether they believe they are or not. Domestic violence affects the whole community, and nobody is safe if our homes are not safe.”
Azle Police Department’s head of patrol operations, Lt. Dora Scudder, was invited by the organization to present statistics on the issue. According to Scudder, one in three women and one in four men in Texas will be victims of abuse by a partner. In Azle, the police have received 180 domestic violence calls since Jan. 1, 2020, amounting to 222 offenses and 162 victims.
“There are more offenses than calls because several instances result in multiple offenses,” Scudder said. “There are fewer victims than calls because unfortunately, we often respond to the same households; 18% of our victims are related to two or more instances. When we compare our numbers from Jan.1 of last year to this year, we see an increase of 29%. We predict this trend will continue due to our increasing population. Domestic violence is real and unfortunately does exist in our community.”
Due to the increase in domestic violence cases, the Azle Police Department established a domestic violence unit in March 2023. The unit has conducted 54 follow-up investigations since its inception. When victims are ready to leave their situation, Azle PD will then connect them to Future, Hope and Healing for resources and a way out.
“It’s people like them that make a difference in our community,” Scudder said of the Future, Hope and Healing staff. Scudder hopes the police will continue to further build their relationship with the center.
Future, Hope and Healing Center operates within and is funded by Hope’s Bazaar at 141 W. Main Street in Azle. Jennifer Mello, manager at Hope’s Bazaar, spoke on recent milestones at the resale shop and the mission of the non-profit. In September, the store set a new record with $4,000 in monthly sales.
“One thing that is special about us is we each are survivors of domestic violence so there is a huge passion in our hearts for this mission to help others come out of the darkness,” Mello said. “We have weekly sales, and accept donations that are free of rips, stains tears, and are good quality, name brand items. We want to make sure that when a client comes into our store we are clothing them with dignity and respect. There’re many who come with absolutely nothing.”
Mello said those who leave Hope’s Bazaar often do so with restored confidence and their heads held high. Mello hopes one day the organization can expand by building a women’s shelter in Azle.
According to Daniels, a resale shop in Bridgeport that supports Wise Hope, a women’s shelter in Decatur, reports that as many as 50% of its clients come from Azle.
Future, Hope and Healing Center provides victims seeking to escape their abusers with the first month’s rent, deposits, motel stays, free counseling and other essentials collected by the resale shop. This year, more than one-third of the nights of safe sleep provided by the center have occurred since mid-August.
“I will tell you, our numbers for the safe nights in somebody’s own home, the deposits and utilities have doubled since our connection with the Azle Police Department’s domestic violence unit,” Daniels said.
On Oct. 19, Daniels will be speaking more about the issues surrounding domestic violence at Survivors Studio’s Community Information Night. Survivors Studio is located on the side of The Edge Church at 1313 Southeast Parkway in Azle. To reserve a spot for the 6p.m. event, text 817-415-0511 or email karen@survivorsstudioTX.com
Resources provided by Future, Hope and healing this year: