October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but one Cove woman is ready to put October and this chapter of her life behind her.
For Sherry McDowney, the pages cannot turn quickly enough.
After 22 years of marriage that she said have been filled with domestic violence, McDowney expects her divorce to become final in November. She said the abuse began during her first year of marriage. Copperas Cove and Fort Hood military police reports reveal a tumultuous relationship of admitted domestic violence dating back to as far as 2003.
Over the years, McDowney filed for multiple protective orders with the Coryell County Crime Victim’s office. At least one was denied, according to a letter from the Crime Victims’ Office, because McDowney remained with her husband after he was put on probation for assaulting their daughter and she had not reported it to law enforcement.
“I didn’t leave out of fear for just myself. I needed to protect my kids,” McDowney said, adding she also stayed with her husband for financial reasons, knowing it would be difficult for her to provide for their five children.
McDowney said she watched her then 16-year-old daughter repeat the cycle of domestic violence. Her daughter’s first boyfriend was abusive but considered the relationship normal because of what she witnessed with her own parents, McDowney said. “I had to tell her that (domestic violence) is not normal and that I should’ve never allowed it.”
But the cycle continued and her daughter’s second boyfriend also was abusive, McDowney said.
Today, both McDowney and her daughter, now an adult, are free from violent relationships. They are working to care for their children and break the cycle of domestic violence.
Coryell County Justice of the Peace Judge John B. Guinn said domestic violence cases similar to McDowney’s are all too common in his courtroom.
“There are a lot of (domestic violence cases),” Guinn said. “It is common to have several each week. They make up about 25 percent of our caseload.”
The Copperas Cove Police Department responds to an average of 48 domestic violence calls every month, said Sgt. Julie Lehmann of the Criminal Investigations Division. She advises victims to report any type of physical assault and file charges for prosecution, seek assistance with programs that can provide assistance, and seek refuge with family members, friends or shelters.
Most importantly, Lehmann said, “Speak up and let someone know what is going on.”