Katy Christian Ministries to Honor Domestic Violence Victims’ Advocate

By George Slaughter

Denise Gruwell (Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office photo)

When it comes to domestic violence, people often focus on victims needing help, and abusers needing intervention to stop further violence. Yet people don’t often think of the caregivers who help those victims get the help they need.

Katy Christian Ministries will honor one such caregiver Thursday as part of its domestic violence awareness activities.

Denise Gruwell is a victim liaison with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s office. She will receive the Brittany Whalen Rumsey Award of Excellence in recognition of her work.

The Katy Christian Ministries Crisis Center is hosting Silent Witness: A Night to Remember the Lives of Those Lost to Domestic Violence, a free community event that is from 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday at Westland Baptist Church, 1407 W. Grand Parkway S.

Dinner is provided but RSVPs are required. RSVPs can be made by clicking this link.

Fort Bend County Sheriff Eric Fagan said Gruwell does a lot of work with people who suffer from domestic violence.

“She helps them get funding from the state,” Fagan said. “She does a great job to help victims, not only of domestic violence, but of crime in general.”

The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office set up A Strong(her) You to help domestic violence victims (Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office photo)

Fagan said Gruwell was behind a victim assistance event that happened last weekend, A Strong(her) You, which had support from several local businesses who donated goods and services to help victims.

Crisis Center Director Susan Hastings said Gruwell remembered her first case.

“She remembers her first family violence victims, and how she went over the victim assistance information safety plan, protective orders, and all the other services,” Hastings said. “Once she started that, she has not turned back. She is very involved with working with victims in Fort Bend County through the sheriff’s office. She’s seen different sheriffs come and go, but she’s been very firm of her position there. Her only regret, she says, is that she didn’t start working in that line of work sooner.”

The award is named in memory of Brittany Whalen Rumsey, who was one of four children shot by their father, Timothy Rumsey, in February 2001 in Katy. Brittany and two of her sisters died, but she maneuvered herself that the surviving sibling was only wounded. Timothy Rumsey killed himself in the episode.

At the event, Mayor Bill Hastings will present a Domestic Violence Awareness Month proclamation issued earlier this month. Chad Bridges, chief of the family violence division in the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office, will be the keynote speaker.

Hastings said the event features a traveling exhibit that includes silhouettes that serve as stand ins for those who lost their lives to domestic violence.

“We pulled the reports and stories, called narratives, from the Texas Council on Family Violence so people can really understand the situation with domestic violence,” Hastings said. “They can see the actual narratives of what happened to them in 2020.”

Hastings said the crisis center provides community education and outreach.

“We have two 24-hour crisis hotlines and two non-emergency crisis hotlines,” Hastings said, adding that someone is on call 24/7, including holidays, and is available for calls to hospitals and law enforcement.

“We accompany victims to court proceedings, forensic interviews, which include law enforcement peer counseling, crisis intervention, and therapeutic counseling,” Hastings said, adding that all services are bilingual and the staff is well trained in Spanish.