HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Along with an increasing population in Hays County, there’s an increase in the number of people filing for protective orders.

Commissioners recently took steps to help protect domestic violence victims by approving the addition of a Victim Assistance Coordinator. The idea was brought to them by Hays County District Attorney Kelly Higgins.

“Help them find resources, provide resources. Provide, in many cases, emotional support, and just do everything that a DA’s office can do for a victim,” DA Higgins said.

‘They were my angels’

Hays County resident Denise Fonseca has experience with a victim assistance coordinator. She was assigned one after being abused for 8 years by her significant other at the time.

“For 2,551 days, he beat me, gagged me, bound me, dropped me on floors, ruptured a disc in my back,” Fonseca said.

Fonseca finally broke free on January 2018 after calling the Hays County Sheriff’s Office.

“They saved me,” Fonseca said. “I think I was probably weeks away from being killed.”

Fonseca said deputies took her abuser to jail that night. He ultimately pled guilty to three felony charges.

“I found peace because I got justice,” she said.

Along that 18-month journey, she had her victim assistance coordinator by her side the whole way. “She sat in court next to me. She held my hand,” Fonseca said.

Fonseca said she’s encouraged another victims assistance coordinator is coming to help guide more people through that journey.

“She was my shoulder to lean on,” Fonseca said.

‘There are ways to get out’

Fonseca said she spent those years tiptoeing her way to freedom.

“It’s mental preparation. It’s a physical preparation. My word of warning is as you get yourself ready, in every sense of the word to totally fracture your life, do it before you’re dead,” Fonseca said.

She said shame and guilt need to be taken out to allow victims to seek out help more easily.

“I do need them to know there are ways to get out and there are ways to transcend,” Fonseca said.