No one knows what goes on behind closed doors at a family’s home.

Behind one closed door could be a family sitting at the dining room table enjoying a wonderful meal while behind another closed door could be a woman or a man huddled in a corner pleading with their spouse to stop assaulting them.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office held a press conference on Friday to remind the public that domestic violence is occurring in the community and there is help for those women and men being abused.

This year’s theme is A Signal of Hope. The signal is lit candles left in a window at a home letting a victim of domestic violence know that it is a safe place he or she can go to for help.

“We are asking members of the community to put a candle in the front window of your homes because every single one of us has a family member or a friend or neighbor who is a victim of domestic violence. They just haven’t told us yet, said Art Villarreal, lead prosecutor in the Domestic Violence Unit at the DA’s office.

“Hopefully by putting these candles in the front windows of our homes we are sending a signal to these victims that this home is a safe place you can come and talk about the domestic violence situation you are suffering through.”

He added the light also signals that those committing the violence can come and seek assistance too.

According to the National Coalition on Domestic Violence, 40.1% of Texas women and 34.9% of Texas men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner rape and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.

Villarreal said his unit has a staff that is dedicated to prosecuting domestic violence cases, supporting victims and guiding them to resources.

He said the DA’s office wants the victims to know that “they are not alone. The most common thread that we see in domestic violence cases is anxiety by the victims, fear by the victims that no one will believe them that no one will support them and what I am going to do if he is put away. And the more frightening question, what am I going to do if they let him out.”

The number of domestic violence cases in Cameron County is high, Villarreal said, adding that only 1% get reported to the police.

The NCADV, reports that in 2013 in Texas, there were 76,704 reported victims of abuse by current or former spouses. Many others went unreported. This statistic excludes reported abuse between non-married intimate partners. In 2014, Texas domestic violence hotlines answered 185,373 calls.

District Attorney Luis V. Saenz laid out a scenario in which a woman gets assaulted by her spouse or boyfriend at the residence and calls police. The officers arrived and notice everything at the home is disheveled, and after the case has been investigated the officers will make an arrest. The case will be turned over to the district attorney’s office for prosecution, he said.

“We are going to file it charging the person with assaulting the lady. You would think that it would be a case but the great majority of the times unfortunately the case is going to for us start to fall apart,” Saenz said. This happens because the victim learns that her husband, boyfriend or ex-husband or partner will have to go to court and probably be convicted and could lose his job.

“The lady is going to start to think about it and says if I do that who’s going to pay the rent. If I keep on with the case, who is going pay the day care, who is going to pay for the car,” Saenz said. She will decline to pursue the case but unfortunately statistics show that it will happen again.

“On the second time it is going to be worse and on the third time even worse and sometimes there’s a death involved.” Saenz said.

“The really, really bad part about it, getting back to my scenario, is that when the actor was assaulting the lady, guess who was in the corner watching everything? Guess who was there? The kids, the children who Daddy hit mommy,” the DA said.

[email protected]