By Ramonica R. Jones
A protective order is supposed to help keep victims of family violence safe, but there's only so much it can do.
Glenda Phillips, Women's Shelter of East Texas, says, "A piece of paper is a piece of paper. A bullet - can it be stopped by a piece of paper? No."
Abuse victims can file a protective order if they've been abused within the past 90 days. In Angelina County, the order goes on file with police, the sheriff's office and your kids' school.
"A protective order is probably the best thing that they can get," Phillips says. "But here again, as we tell our women, it's gonna do one of two things: it's either going to shake them into realizing that, you know, they need to stop; they need to watch what they're doing and they need to stop the violence. Or it's just going to anger them and throw them into a worse cycle of violence.
A protective order is still helpful in a domestic violence situation, but Phillips says more needs to be done in East Texas to protect victims of abuse.
Outreach coordinator, Michelle McCleskey, says, "A lot of women won't leave because they live in Angelina County. Their jobs are here. Their children go to school here and they can't afford to pull up and leave and go to Nacogdoches. If you go to a safe house for any amount of time, your children have to go to school. So they have to leave their school district and everything they know and (go to Nacogdoches) or Crockett."
There's no cost to file a protective order. Once you file, it takes about 21 days for it to go into effect.
The women's shelters in East Texas provide support groups, advocacy and victim assistance programs in several locations.
For information about services in Nacogdoches, you can call 569-1018. The Lufkin outreach office serves residents in Angelina, Polk and San Jacinto counties. That number is 639-1681. The Crockett office services both Houston and Trinity counties. You can call the center at 544-2151.