WAXAHACHIE

Over 200 family violence cases were reported to the Waxahachie Police Department in 2017. Those families and their loved ones now have somewhere to go, thanks to the Family Abuse Center.

The Family Abuse Center is a Waco-based shelter that seeks to prevent and eliminate domestic abuse instances in Central Texas. Legal advocate Thomas Kowatch explained that the center provides legal assistance, services and counseling in addition to providing emergency shelter for those fleeing from dangerous situations.

“It’s an unfortunate need,” Kowatch expressed. “But it’s definitely a need that we have here in Ellis County.”

According to the Waxahachie Police Department, 623 family violence cases were reported for Ellis County in 2017. Two hundred thirteen of those came from Waxahachie, and Kowatch expressed that some of those numbers don’t even represent the full picture.

“Those numbers are probably just a small fraction of what actually happens,” Kowatch stated. “The real number is probably much larger than that. Only about 10 to 20 percent of incidents that happens are actually reported. A majority of them go under-reported.”

To necessitate a growing need with Ellis County, the Family Abuse Center opened its first official satellite location at the Waxahachie Police Station in January. Kowatch explained that many of the services the abuse center’s central hub is also offered at their auxiliary location at the Waxahachie Police Department.

The only service they don’t provide is an emergency shelter. Even then, however, Kowatch's office would help connect victims to temporary residential situations until they could find a more permanent solution.

“Ellis is definitely a county that could use some services here,” Kowatch stated. “By opening the satellite office, it gives us the opportunity to have advocates here from the area that can assist our clients more readily. We’re just trying to help facilitate those ways to fill those gaps to a county that is growing.”

Kowatch stated that the Waxahachie Police Department had been very accommodating and welcoming to the Family Abuse Center’s addition to their department. He said he hopes their collaboration will continue to help families in need, wherever they may be in Ellis County.

“This has been an outstanding start to our partnership,” Kowatch expressed. “I’m thankful for that and all that they’ve done. We look forward to helping out the PD and the community as much as possible.”

The Family Abuse Center’s Waxahachie location is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Department’s community room, which is located at 630 Farley Street. An open house for the office will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, March 22.

To contact the Family Abuse Center, call 469-309-4440 or visit www.familyabusecenter.org. The emergency hotline for the center is 1-800-283-8401.