Family Violence

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Family Violence

Texas law defines family violence as an act that:

  • One person commits against another family or household member
  • Is intended to cause harm or fear of harm 

The American Academy of Family Physicians recognizes violence, including child abuse and intimate partner violence, as a public health concern. 

Risk & Protective Factors for Family Violence

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies dozens of individual, relationship, family, community and societal risk and protective factors for child abuse and intimate partner violence

While risk factors may increase the likelihood of abuse or violence, protective factors can actually lower the likelihood of these traumatic events. 

Risk factors are linked to a greater likelihood of abuse and violence. 

Children are more at risk for abuse if they:

  • Are 4 years old or younger
  • Have a special need (e.g., disability, chronic health condition)

Protective factors exist on the individual, family and community levels. 

Individuals can protect others from abuse by:

  • Creating safe relationships 
  • Providing emotional support
  • Meeting individual’s basic needs like food and shelter

Families can protect others from abuse by:

  • Forming strong social networks in the community
  • Nurturing each other and giving each other affection
  • Developing emotional resilience
  • Using community resources when they lack basic needs like food, clothing, and housing

Risk factors for violence may occur in either childhood or adulthood. Adverse childhood experiences are potentially traumatic events that occur when we are young. ACEs and the associated stress can lead to some of the most common, serious, and costly health and social challenges. 

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Examples of Adverse Childhood Experiences include:

  • Physical or emotional neglect
  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Divorce
  • Living with family members with mental illness
  • Having a relative who has been incarcerated 

Over 60% of adults experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience.

Preventing ACEs can help children and adults thrive and potentially:

  • Lower the risk for depression, heart disease, asthma, cancer, diabetes and obesity in adulthood
  • Reduce risky behaviors like smoking and heavy drinking
  • Improve education and employment potential
  • Stop ACEs from being passed from one generation to the next

Health Risk Factors After Experiencing Violence

After experiencing violence, people may be more at risk for health conditions including: 

  • Mental illness
  • Chronic pain
  • Heart disease

Family Violence in Bexar County

According to the Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence’s 2021 report on Bexar County [PDF]:

  • In 2021, the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) received over 71,000 family violence calls, resulting in just over 20,000 family violence incident reports filed. There was a 5% increase in family violence calls and a 20% increase in family violence incident reports filed between 2020 and 2021. 
  • The top five ZIP codes for family violence calls in 2021 were 78207, 78223, 78228, 78227 and 78201. 
  • In 2021, SAPD reported 22 family violence homicides, down from 30 in 2020. 
  • Bexar County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) filed over 2,100 family violence cases in 2021, a 17% increase from 2020.
  • In 2021, BCSO reported two family violence homicides, down from six in 2020.

University Health Resources

Texas Home Visiting: Healthy Families Bexar

University Health leads the Bexar County branch of the Texas Home Visiting program. It includes home visiting programs, parent education and support, and community-level approaches to enhance outcomes for young children and families. Please call 210-644-3537 for more information. Must be a current University Health patient to qualify.

Gun Safety 4 Bexar

Bexar County and University Health are working to save lives through our partnership, GunSafety4Bexar. Together, we can prevent many of these tragedies by promoting safe gun storage.

Community Resources

Children’s Alliance of South Texas

Children’s Alliance of South Texas uniquely provides comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate services to child abuse victims. When an abuse allegation occurs, a child is brought to a kid-friendly center with trained professionals who work with the child.


ChildSafe coordinates the efforts of child protection staff, law enforcement, family advocates, medical experts and mental health clinicians for children and adolescents traumatized by sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, neglect or exploitation. It’s the only nonprofit of its kind in Bexar County.

Empower House

Empower House community health programs strengthen women and their communities by working to reduce health disparities and barriers to care. The organization increases access to essential health services, wellness tools, skills and support for community-wide change. The Empower House Parents program raises awareness around family violence and provides parents with skills and strategies to build life-giving relationships with their kids.

Family Violence Prevention Services 

Family Violence Prevention Services, Inc. provides emergency shelter, transitional housing education, parenting education and early intervention services for adults, children, youth and older people.

Family Violence Prevention Services also operates the Battered Women and Children’s Shelter. Call the Crisis Line at 210-733-8810.