Abilene man discusses domestic violence experience


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – When hearing about Domestic Violence Awareness Month, most people tend to think about abuse toward women, but men can be victims, too.

It’s something we don’t hear about often but is more common than you may assume.

“Tempers would flare and it would get violent sometimes,” says Heath Winters.

Winters says he was in an abusive relationship for 15 years.

“She died of accidental overdose of opioids back in 2011,” says Winters.

Sadly, her passing was his only way out of the relationship.

“I always wanted a good marriage. It was going to be a one-time deal for me. I didn’t want a redo. That’s why I was so dead set on making my marriage work,” says Winters.

He stayed in the relationship despite the pain he endured.

“I was raised by grandparents and it was most definitely, ‘Don’t ever touch a woman,’ and it was very hard in doing that, to be physically abused and not be able to defend yourself back,” says Winters.

Many men are taught to never put their hands on a woman.

“It’s going after men, too. We’re trying to get the men to speak up because a lot of times they feel like they’re the man and they can handle it, and they won’t report it or they won’t follow through,” says Shawna Joiner, a member of the Abilene/Taylor County Alliance to End Family Violence.

The rates of both men and women impacted by domestic violence are alarming.

“Nationally it’s 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men, but when you get to Texas it’s 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men,” says Joiner.

“We all have this idea that we can always help the other person, when in fact, sometimes we can just barely help ourselves,” says Winters.

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