Five visitors from Georgia visited San Antonio from April 23 to May 11 to learn more about combating gender-based violence. This included interfacing with specialized units of law enforcement, dedicated NGOs, and social service groups to learn more about the work they are doing to prevent and address violence against women.
On Friday, they spoke with Lieutenant Bill Grayson who works at the Special Victims Unit of the San Antonio Police Department. He was able to give a breakdown of tactics used by the SAPD to investigate and prosecute in cases of domestic violence. Representatives of Victim Advocacy and the Sex Crimes Division were also able to shed light on the support provided to victims of abuse, coordination efforts with federal agencies, and efforts to end human trafficking.
However, other groups were able to shed more light on social services being provided to those affected by gender-based violence. The Methodist Transplant and Specialty Hospital was able to provide information about how they collect evidence in cases of rape or domestic abuse for victims arriving at the hospital. Family Violence and Prevention Services discussed breaking the cycle of violence and providing necessary relief for victims through emergency shelter, education, and early child intervention. At the Bexar Family Justice Center, visitors got to see a "one-stop shop" of multidisciplinary professionals aimed at providing both legal and social services for victims of abuse and family violence. Later, at the Children's Shelter, our guests learned more about what they are doing to intervene on the part of children in households, particularly in underserved areas, with a history of domestic violence. These non-profits were able to explain a wide range of tactics used at combating gender-based violence.
Lastly, the Bexar County District Attorney's Office gave detail on all that they do to build cases against defendants and then help victims find victim advocacy services, protective order filing, and perpetrator accountability. All of these efforts have been aided by the recent establishment of the Child Abuse Unit, Domestic Violence Task Force, and Conviction Integrity Unit.
Through these appointments, our visitors were able to meet State Department goals of encountering specialized units within the police departments an prosecutors' offices of San Antonio that focus on sexual assault and domestic violence. They were also able to explore how various social service agencies and NGOs were involved in the prevention of sexual violence and the treatment of the survivors.