Local Business Beginning Efforts Against Domestic Violence
Fuller Fitness is making strides to stop domestic violence by offering self defense classes and to begin raising money to help victims.
Each Tuesday at Fuller Fitness, women can attend a one-hour, self-defense class. The class is free and begins at 6:45 p.m. The class is taught by Lalo Falcon and Shelli Shanti who are certified martial arts instructors. Fuller Fitness owner Cari Fuller explained the classes have been a hit so far with around 25 women attending of all ages. “Women leave [the class] feeling empowered,” Fuller said. “They’re feeling like they can at least get away if the situation occurs which is very important and why we started the classes.”
Fuller shared she had plans to do something against violence several months ago, but after the recent murder-suicide involving violence in the Aransas Pass community, she decided to step the plans up. “Once I saw the number of cases that are just reported, I knew something had to happen to help the fight against violence,” Fuller said. “We know people are suffering, and we have to show someone cares here locally.”
The Fuller Fitness team has started working on a stop the violence campaign to take place during October which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Fuller explained she and her staff want to start with starting awareness in the schools with counselors. “We want to stress to the kids that hands are for hugs, not hitting,” Fuller said. Fuller went on the say the gym will be offering stranger danger classes for children.
In addition, the gym will begin collecting teddy bears which will be donated to the police department to take on calls that involve children. “The teddy bears will hopefully calm the kids down when the cops get there and to show the cops are there to help them,” Fuller said.
Aransas Pass Police Chief Eric Blanchard shared family violence is the number one crime committed against women in Aransas Pass. Blanchard explained children witness the cycle of violence in homes. “Adults sometimes forget their children witness these events and are influenced by the behavior,” Blanchard said. “Sometimes children are traumatized from witnessing it.”
Fuller Fitness will also be accepting cell phones. The phones will be set-up to call 911 only and given to domestic violence victims. “[The victims] are usually kept from communication, so the idea with the phones is for them to know they do have a way to call the police,” Fuller said.
Blanchard talked about different ways the police department can help the victims. “If you find yourself in a violent relationship, please know it's not normal and it will not improve on its own,” Blanchard said. “No matter the promises made, it will worsen and it could cost you your life or worse, the life of a loved one. We're here to help and we have a wealth of resources at our disposal. Additionally, one can contact our victim's liaison and advocate Stephanie Diaz at 361-758-5224.”
Along with the campaign, Fuller Fitness will be selling t-shirts with sponsor logos. “We want to get other local businesses involved,” Fuller said. “[Local businesses] can be a sponsor and have a spot on the shirts as well as give money to the Women’s Shelter to help with counseling fees.”
At the domestic violence coalition the City of Aransas Pass held on July 19, the Women’s Shelter talked about how most times the victims and/or batter cannot afford to pay the counseling fees. “If we just get a handful of sponsors, that will be several people getting the counseling they need to ultimately change their lives,” Fuller said. The gym will be collecting several different items the Women’s Shelter needs like blankets, pillows, diapers, toiletries, etc. All the money raised during the campaign will be donated to the Women’s Shelter. “We want the people who are suffering locally to know there is a way to change,” Fuller said. “We want them to know there is local support.”