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By Danielle Ohlemacher

Texas Council on Family Violence Honors Four Outstanding Texas Leaders and Fathers for Father’s Day

For Immediate Release

 

Austin, Texas – June 16, 2016– This Father’s Day, The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) celebrates fathers who devote their lives to building safer communities for their kids and by doing so, impact future generations to come.  These dads lead by example, inspiring us all to envision a Texas free of violence – and strive tirelessly to accomplish this goal.  They are remarkable leaders in their professional lives, and remarkable fathers at home.

“Father’s Day is a very important day in the lives of children here in Texas and across the world.  It is a day of celebration to recognize the dedication and unconditional love fathers give to raise their children and help them become confident adults,” said Gloria A. Terry, CEO of the Texas Council on Family Violence.  “A good father makes all the difference in a child’s life.  He’s a pillar of strength and support and he leads by example. We thank these wonderful dads and Texas leaders this Father’s Day.”

Thank you to these dads and happy Father’s Day!

This Father’s Day TCFV recognizes:

  • Representative Abel Herrero, Robstown, TX
  • Coach Josh Ragsdale, South Garland High School, Garland, TX
  • Judge Tano Tijerina, County Judge of Webb County, Laredo, TX
  • Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston, TX

 

Representative Abel Herrero has dedicated his career to serving the Robstown-area for more than 17 years, first as city council member, and then as state representative.  As chair of the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, Rep. Herrero has been an energetic ally in promoting laws that help domestic violence survivors. Last session, he successfully stewarded a law to allow juries to hear more information about an abuser’s past violence – a transformational improvement for victims seeking justice. “As these survivors take brave steps towards breaking the cycle of violence, I am proud to have played even a small part in providing a hopeful path forward,” said Rep. Herrero.

Representative Herrero is a father to five: Annalisa – 17, Andrea – 12, Abel Jr. -10, Alexia – 8, and Aliana – 6. “Cherish every moment with your children because time will not stand still, but most of all, because they are your greatest blessings.”

 

Coach Josh Ragsdale, South Garland High School, Garland, TX- On Coach Ragsdale’s team, respect for women is the standard. Every student on his football team pledges to help stop domestic violence. It’s part of Coach Ragsdale’s Domestic Violence Awareness Project, an effort he has lead for the last three years. The project has been a major success, spurring universities to create programs to teach about dating and sexual violence and encourage their own teams to “take the pledge.” More recently, Coach Ragsdale has joined TCFV’s Coaches’ Leadership Crew to help expand teen dating violence programs to more sports programs.

Coach Ragsdale is a father of three: Natalie – 12, Valerie – 12 and Ryan – 1. His parenting philosophy? “Don’t be afraid to use the words ‘I love you.’ I regularly tell my wife how much I love her in front of my children and hug and kiss on her. I want them to see me treat her like the queen that she deserves to be treated like. In turn, I want my girls to expect to be treated the same way and be respected for the wonderful ladies that they are. I also want my son to ‘want to be like daddy.’  I want him to grow up with a servant’s heart and a man who fully respects women.”

 

For Judge Tano Tijerina, service to his community is a family value. The Webb County native and former professional baseball player comes from a family of civil servants. Perhaps that history contributed to his desire to go above and beyond the job of judge to become a moral leader in his community. Last year, Judge Tijerina launched the Be A Man and Stand Up Campaign, calling on Texas men to be active participants in the movement to end violence against women in Texas.

Judge Tijerina is a father of four: Bonnie Jean – 19, Cayetano Isaac – 16, Christopher Alfonso – 11, and Keith Alexander – 11. When it comes to parenting, he says: “Allow your kids to be their own persona with guidance and love, and the rest is just details.”

 

Mayor Sylvester Turner has consistently and enthusiastically raised the profile of domestic violence services in Houston during his tenure as Mayor. He has also been an active leader in promoting Texas values of respect for diversity and tolerance. Prior to his work as mayor, he spent 27 years representing Houstonians in the Texas House, where he served on the budget committee and helped secure full funding for family violence programs.

Mayor Turner is a proud father to daughter Ashley. Ashley is continuing the family tradition of public service in the healthcare field. Some of the best advice he has received? “When times were rough, [my mother] told us that tomorrow would be better than today. Today, it is evident that what my mom said is very true.”

 

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Texas Council on Family Violence is the only 501(c) 3 nonprofit coalition in Texas dedicated solely to creating safer communities and freedom from family violence. With a state-wide reach and direct local impact, TCFV, with the collective strength of more than 1000 members, shapes public policy, equips service providers, and initiates strategic prevention efforts. Visit us online at http://www.tcfv.org/

Dads Matter – Happy Father’s Day!

For Father’s Day, TCFV celebrates fathers who devote their lives to building safer communities for their kids and by doing so, impact future generations to come. These dads lead by example, inspiring us all to envision a Texas free of violence – and strive tirelessly to accomplish this goal. They are remarkable leaders in their professional lives, and remarkable fathers at home.
 
Thank you to these dads and happy Father’s Day!

Representative Abel Herrero, Robstown, TX

Representative Abel Herrero has dedicated his career to serving the Robstown-area for more than 17 years, first as city council member, and then as state representative. As chair of the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, Rep. Herrero has been an energetic ally in promoting laws that help domestic violence survivors. In the 84th session, he successfully stewarded a law to allow juries to hear more information about an abuser’s past violence – a transformational improvement for victims seeking justice. “As these survivors take brave steps towards breaking the cycle of violence, I am proud to have played even a small part in providing a hopeful path forward,” said Rep. Herrero.

Representative Herrero is a father to five: Annalisa – 17, Andrea – 12, Abel Jr. – 10, Alexia – 8, and Aliana – 6. “Cherish every moment with your children because time will not stand still, but most of all, because they are your greatest blessings.”

Coach Josh Ragsdale, South Garland High School, Garland, TX

On Coach Ragsdale’s team, respect for women is the standard. Every student on his football team pledges to help stop domestic violence. It’s part of Coach Ragsdale’s Domestic Violence Awareness Project, an effort he has lead for the last three years. The project has been a major success, spurring universities to create programs to teach about dating and sexual violence and encourage their own teams to “take the pledge.” More recently, Coach Ragsdale has joined TCFV’s Coaching Leadership Group to help expand teen dating violence programs to more sports programs.

Coach Ragsdale is a father of three: Natalie – 12, Valerie – 12 and Ryan – 1. His parenting philosophy? “Don’t be afraid to use the words ‘I love you.’ I regularly tell my wife how much I love her in front of my children and hug and kiss on her. I want them to see me treat her like the queen that she deserves to be treated like. In turn, I want my girls to expect to be treated the same way and be respected for the wonderful ladies that they are. I also want my son to ‘want to be like daddy.’ I want him to grow up with a servant’s heart and a man who fully respects women.”

Judge Tano Tijerina, County Judge of Webb County, Laredo, TX

For Judge Tano Tijerina, service to his community is a family value. The Webb County native and former professional baseball player comes from a family of civil servants. Perhaps that history contributed to his desire to go above and beyond the job of judge to become a moral leader in his community. Last year, Judge Tijerina launched the Be A Man and Stand Up Campaign, calling on Texas men to be active participants in the movement to end violence against women in Texas.

Judge Tijerina is a father of four: Bonnie Jean – 19, Cayetano Isaac – 16, Christopher Alfonso – 11, and Keith Alexander – 11. When it comes to parenting, he says: “Allow your kids to be their own persona with guidance and love, and the rest is just details.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston, TX

Mayor Sylvester Turner has consistently and enthusiastically raised the profile of domestic violence services in Houston during his tenure as Mayor. He has also been an active leader in promoting Texas values of respect for diversity and tolerance. Prior to his work as mayor, he spent 27 years representing Houstonians in the Texas House, where he served on the budget committee and helped secure full funding for family violence programs.
Mayor Turner is a proud father to daughter Ashley. Ashley is continuing the family tradition of public service in the healthcare field. Some of the best advice he has received? “When times were rough, [my mother] told us that tomorrow would be better than today. Today, it is evident that what my mom said is very true.”


Do you want to learn more about TCFV’s work and stay up-to-date with new resources? Sign up for our email list! 

Supporting LGBT Victims & Survivors – Pride Month

June is LGBT Pride Month and TCFV is highlighting the importance of recognizing and supporting LGBT victims and survivors of domestic violence. One in four people in a same-sex relationship will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, a similar rate to women in heterosexual relationships. Tragically, five Texans who identified as LGBT were murdered by abusive current or ex-partners in 2015. These individuals came from diverse regions of Texas, including El Paso, Austin, Marietta, and Tyler.

Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people don’t seek help from family violence programs. Our social attitudes – about gender, about sexuality, and about violence – can be very real, significant barriers to making sure that everyone has access to safe services. And while intimate partner violence in LGBT relationships has many similarities to violence in heterosexual relationships, there are some key differences that significantly impact the way survivors get help.

Similarities:

  • The abuser’s goal is power, dominance and control.
  • Abuse can continue even after one partner leaves and is common.
  • Abuse can take many forms: physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse.
  • Under-reporting is common.

Differences:

  • Seeking help can mean coming out.
  • Seeking help can mean outing a partner.
  • The abuser can use homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia as additional tools for abuse.
  • The abuse can wrongly be perceived as mutual.
  • Legal remedies, resources, and support structures may be limited.

What You Can Do:

Everyone has a role to play in promoting safe and healthy relationships. The most important thing you can do to help? Stand up against homophobia and transphobia wherever you see it. Homophobia and transphobia hurt everyone, but discrimination can be life-threatening for the most vulnerable among us, including survivors of domestic violence. By calling out homophobia and transphobia wherever you see it, you can help change our culture so that survivors can get help when they need it.

TCFV’s LGBT Stakeholder Group works to advocate for the inclusion of LGBT voices in the work to end violence and to advocate for the needs of LGBT survivors. Currently, the Stakeholder Group is working to research and analyze the intimate partner murders of LGBT Texans.

Here are some tips you can use to make space for LGBT victims of domestic violence:

  • Use gender-neutral language when possible – In some contexts, it can be helpful to acknowledge that women are the majority of victims and men are the majority of offenders, but unless you have a specific reason to use gendered language, try using gender neutral language to be more inclusive.
  • Use mirroring language for sexual and gender identification – Mirroring language means using the same terms as the person you are speaking with, including pronouns, sexual identification, and gender identification. If you aren’t sure what words to use, ask.
  • Make connections within your local community – Make a point of reaching out to local organizations in your community that support LGBT folks. Prevention and outreach events are good opportunities to build community connections.
  • Educate yourself about the issues – Take the time to learn about LGBT issues. The more you know, the more good you can do.

TCFV is committed to helping every Texas program serve LGBT victims of domestic violence. Have questions? Call our TA line at 1-800-525-1978 for more support.


Do you want to learn more about TCFV’s work and stay up-to-date with new resources? Sign up for our email list! 

Texas Council on Family Violence Celebrates and Honors Five Fabulous  Women Leaders from Across Texas This Mother’s Day

Austin, TX (May 9, 2017)-This Mother’s Day the Texas Council on Family Violence is celebrating all the wonderful Texas moms who are making a difference in the lives of Texans.

TCFV praises the leadership of women who have made it their life’s work to empower other women. These women created remarkable services and policies, and challenge conditions that permit domestic violence to occur. These extraordinary women are also exceptional mothers. Thank you for making the world a better place.

“We are here today to honor all the mothers in Texas. The mother’s we have lost, the mothers who are here and the grandmothers who are now raising their grandchildren or never got to meet their grandchild because their mom was taken away in violent act of murder.  We are here, because we believe lives will be saved and we want to help people recognize the signs of domestic violence and empower them to help friends and co-workers who are in abusive relationships before it is too late,” said Gloria Terry, CEO of the Texas Council on Family Violence.

Annette Burrhus-Clay, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault – Austin, TX

Annette Burrhus-Clay has given selflessly of her time, talents and treasures to ameliorate violence against women. Her commitment is evidenced by her remarkable 21-year tenure at the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. Annette is a fierce activist to the core, and her work influences state and national practice and policy. While her heart belongs to her four adult children, the center of her universe are her six grandchildren: Brayden, Anaya, Beau, Camille, Ami and two-week-old Norah.

“Kids taught me that I’m more capable than I thought and had a greater capacity for love than I imagined. Grandkids have taught me to let go of the unimportant things that keep us distracted or angry.”

Connie Gray, Focusing Families – Hempstead, TX

Connie Gray wears many hats at Focusing Families – children’s counselor, prevention director, and even mom! Connie’s adult daughter, Nicole, works alongside her at the agency, inspired by her mom’s passion. Together, they work in schools to change the culture and equip young people with the tools they need to empower themselves and build connections within their communities.

Connie is a steadfast advocate for young people. As a mom of three, her kids inspire her as much as she’s inspired them. “They taught me to believe the impossible and dream big.”

Rosa Hopkins, Women’s Center of East Texas – Longview, TX

Rosa Hopkins is the BIPP Coordinator at the Women’s Center of East Texas, where she works to hold batterers accountable and teach them the fundamentals of leading healthy, nonviolent relationships. She started working with offenders as an independent BIPP counselor because she saw the need in her community.

Rosa is well-respected in the community as a gifted and committed facilitator. Working with offenders isn’t always easy, but Rosa is driven by her compassion. Her own background – she is a survivor of domestic violence now happily married and the mother of two sons – fuels her empathy and ability to build connections in her work. “They’re human beings – I’m here to be an example of what kindness looks like, what human compassionate looks like.”

Toni Johnson-Simpson, Denton County Friends of the Family – Denton, TX

Toni Johnson-Simpson’s journey towards executive leader of the Denton County Friends of the Family started as an altruistic 21-year-old college student. Her passion has never flagged since. Toni expects more from her community in regard to victim compassion, batterer accountability and access to services because she knows that all children deserve it. And while her professional accomplishments are impressive, her personal ones monumental. Toni is a mom to three: daughter Ebonie and twins Justin and Jaydah. Toni credits her children for teaching her to love and to take time to enjoy life. When things get difficult she embraces wise words from Jaydah: “I’m going to celebrate how much I DID get done because I am still fabulous.” Yes, Toni – you are.

Rosie Martinez- Victims Unit Director at Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s office

Rosie Martinez has dedicated her career of over 16 years to victim services and currently serves as the Victims Unit Director at Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s office. Victims’ services has been more than a career for Rosie; she calls it her “passion and lifetime mission,” and it shows in her leadership throughout the community. Rosie volunteers on the Hidalgo County Family Violence Task Force, Rio Grande Valley Human Trafficking Coalition, Child Fatality Review Team, Citizen’s Review Team of DFPS, and the Hidalgo County Truancy Policy Committee.   A mom to five and grandmother of three, Rosie says her kids drive her work. “The sense of accomplishment that comes from hearing your children tell you that you are their inspiration, their role model, that they are proud of you and that they want to be like you is the best feeling in life.”

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Texas Council on Family Violence is the only 501(c) 3 nonprofit coalition in Texas dedicated solely to creating safer communities and freedom from family violence. With a state-wide reach and direct local impact, TCFV, with the collective strength of more than 1000 members, shapes public policy, equips service providers, and initiates strategic prevention efforts. Visit us online at http://www.tcfv.org/

Moms Make a Difference!

On Mother’s Day, TCFV acknowledges the leadership of women who have made it their life’s work to empower other women. These women create remarkable services and policies and challenge conditions that permit violence to occur. These extraordinary women are also exceptional mothers. Thank you for making the world a better place.

Annette Burrhus-Clay, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault – Austin, TX

Annette Burrhus-Clay has given selflessly of her time, talents and treasures to ameliorate violence against women. Her commitment is evidenced by her remarkable 21-year tenure at the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. Annette is a fierce activist to the core, and her work influences state and national practice and policy. While her heart belongs to her four adult children, the center of her universe are her six grandchildren: Brayden, Anaya, Beau, Camille, Ami and two-week-old Norah.

“Kids taught me to I’m more capable than I thought and had a greater capacity for love than I imagined. Grandkids have taught me to let go of the unimportant things that keep us distracted or angry.”

Connie Gray, Focusing Families – Hempstead, TX

Connie Gray wears many hats at Focusing Families – children’s counselor, prevention director, and even mom! Connie’s adult daughter, Nicole, works alongside her at the agency, inspired by her mom’s passion. Together, they work in schools to change the culture and equip young people with the tools they need to empower themselves and build connections within their communities.

Connie is a steadfast advocate for young people. {waiting for more context}. As a mom of three, her kids inspire her as much as she’s inspired them. “They taught me to believe the impossible and dream big.”

 

Rosa Hopkins, Women’s Center of East Texas – Longview, TX

Rosa Hopkins is the BIPP Coordinator at the Women’s Center of East Texas, where she works to hold batterers accountable and teach them the fundamentals of leading healthy, nonviolent relationships. She started working with offenders as an independent BIPP counselor because she saw the need in her community.

Rosa is well-respected in the community as a gifted and committed facilitator. Working with offenders isn’t always easy, but Rosa is driven by her compassion. Her own background – she is a survivor of domestic violence now happily married and the mother of two sons – fuels her empathy and ability to build connections in her work. “They’re human beings – I’m here to be an example of what kindness looks like, what human compassionate looks like.”

Toni Johnson-Simpson, Denton County Friends of the Family – Denton, TX

Toni Johnson-Simpson’s journey towards executive leader of the Denton County Friends of the Family started as an altruistic 21-year-old college student. Her passion has never flagged since. Toni expects more from her community in regards to victim compassion, batterer accountability and access to services because she knows that all children deserve it. And while her professional accomplishments are impressive, her personal ones monumental. Toni is a mom to three: daughter Ebonie and twins Justin and Jaydah.

Toni credits her children for teaching her to love and to take time to enjoy life. When things get difficult she embraces wise words from Jaydah: “I’m going to celebrate how much I DID get done because I am still fabulous.” Yes, Toni – you are.

 

Rosie Martinez

Rosie Martinez has dedicated her career of over 16 years to victim services and currently serves as the Victims Unit Director at Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s office. Victims’ services has been more than a career for Rosie; she calls it her “passion and lifetime mission,” and it shows in her leadership throughout the community. Rosie volunteers on the Hidalgo County Family Violence Task Force, Rio Grande Valley Human Trafficking Coalition, Child Fatality Review Team, Citizen’s Review Team of DFPS, and the Hidalgo County Truancy Policy Committee.

A mom to five and grandmother of three, Rosie says her kids drive her work. “The sense of accomplishment that comes from hearing your children tell you that you are their inspiration, their role model, that they are proud of you and that they want to be like you is the best feeling in life.”


Stay up-to-date with TCFV news and resources: sign up for our email list! 

Safe Moms, Safe Kids

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Violence within families is complex, and requires our whole community to work together to promote safe and nurturing homes. Family violence survivors who are parents play an instrumental role in helping promote the safety and well-being of their children. By supporting survivors parents, we can support their role as protective parents. 

Family violence programs and child advocacy organizations each have a role to play in promoting safe families. We are united in our goals and in our guiding principles. One such guiding principle? That enhancing the safety of the parent who is a victim of domestic violence enhances the child’s safety. We asked our partners in this vital work to share what that guiding principle means to them. 

“Enhancing the safety of the parent who is a victim of domestic violence enhances the child’s safety.”


Leigh Ann Fry, Executive Director of Noah Project:

The idea of keeping children safe should be a simple concept. In its most basic form it means to do whatever it takes to secure a safe, healthy life for a child. However, the safety of a child cannot be teased apart from the safety of a protective parent who also happens to be a victim of family violence. For too long those concepts did not co-exist.

Within the last few years we have come to understand in a deep and meaningful way that often the best way to keep a child safe is to keep their victim parent safe. Through careful safety planning, recognizing and highlighting the protective capacities that a parent already may have in place, or helping them to identify new means of protective capacity, we are doing our part to secure safety for children. Additionally, it is essential in moving forward with enhancing victim safety that we hold batterers accountable. It is unfortunate that this continues to frequently be the greatest barrier to enhanced safety. Frequently the focus is put on requiring the victim to participate in some type of services rather than holding the batterer accountable. We cannot and should not allow the excuse that the batterer refuses services or disappears altogether during investigative periods. The vehicles of BIPP and best practices in community collaboration are only some of the tools immediately at our disposal for batterer accountability.

We must recognize that for many this is a relatively new concept and it is the diligent work of providers that will help turn the tides of victim blaming and welcome a paradigm shift where we recognize child safety and parent safety as synonymous.


Judge Darlene Byrne, 126th Civil District Court, Travis County:

After more than a decade of hearing CPS cases, I have held more than 14,000 hearings and seen firsthand how the safety of the child is intimately tied to the safety of the victim of domestic violence. A very high percentage of these cases involve domestic violence, either as an immediate crisis or past experiences that have contributed to the trauma and behaviors of those involved.  In most of my cases, the children want to be with one or both of their parents in the end. They just want the adults they love to stop fighting with their hands and words and to live in a home free from violence in which no one is hurt. As we move toward safety and permanency for a child, however, the Court and all Court participants must understand that domestic violence is complex. Safety doesn’t immediately happen when a CPS case has been filed, or a kick-out order issued, or a protective order sought. In fact, the initiation of these actions may be the most unsafe time for the victim and the children involved. When CPS and domestic violence cases collide, judges and court teams need the assistance of professionals who are well-trained in the complexities of domestic violence to help them make the safest possible decisions for the victim and children involved.


Christina Green, Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas Director of Public Affairs and Sarah Crockett, Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates Public Policy Coordinator:

Children are our future, our legacy, our hope – and in Texas, the protection and safety of our children is paramount. During April’s focus on child abuse awareness it is important to emphasize that protecting children is not the responsibility of one person, one group, one agency, or one entity. Rather, the responsibility to keep our children safe rests on all of us.

Strong communities, buoyed up by public-private partnerships that support strong families, are a critical part of keeping families and children safe. Local community programs like children’s advocacy centers, court appointed special advocates (CASA), and family violence programs let children and families know that they are not alone and have resources, services, and caring people to walk alongside them through some of their most difficult times. The result is a stronger system and superior services for children and families. It is only with this multifaceted, all-hands-on-deck approach that we can ensure that families have the tools and 360-degree support they need to break the cycle of all types of abuse.

We are part of a system that is greater than the sum of its parts, and the work that we do together produces more resilient and hopeful communities and families. Rather than turning a blind eye to what can be a difficult and heartbreaking topic, will you be a part of this collective solution in your local community? Join us this month by wearing blue to raise awareness, volunteering, or starting a courageous conversation. We can’t do it without you.


Deborah Tucker, Domestic Violence Specialist, Division of Practice Excellence, Child Protective Services, Department of Family and Protective Services:

Child Protective Services took to heart the Guiding Principles of the Task Force to Address the Relationship between Domestic Violence and Child Abuse and Neglect. April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month provides opportunity to share practice changes that better protect Texas children and adults harmed by the same perpetrator.

In partnership with the Texas Council on Family Violence the Disposition Guidelines for Domestic Violence assist CPS to determine the best intervention when child abuse and domestic violence are alleged. Among the underlying philosophical shifts at CPS the Guidelines reinforce separately considering the actions of each parent/caretaker.

Instead of CPS reports that read “the parents were fighting, the child got between them and was struck,” reports now say “John hit Jane. Jack tried to step between to protect his mother and John hit him too.” This allows CPS to better coordinate services for the family.

CPS training promotes partnerships with adult victims, including connecting them with Family Violence Programs (FVPs), family, and friends who help keep them and their children safe. To support changes in behavior CPS Family Group Decision-Making meetings now include FVPs and welcome mentors of the person using the violence. If best for safety, CPS arranges for participation of the perpetrator by phone rather than in-person.

These are among many examples of how CPS, TCFV, and FVPs apply the Guiding Principles to protect children and adults while seeking to end violence. We make a difference together.


Do you want to learn more about TCFV’s work and stay up-to-date with new resources? Sign up for our email list! 

Believe Survivors

Did you know that sexual assault is the most under-reported crime in Texas?  

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) and TCFV stands united with our partners, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and programs working across the state and country to end sexual assault. As Texans who care about ending violence in our state, we recognize the importance of knowing the key facts about sexual violence and being champions for all survivors.

The Facts about Sexual Assault in Texas:

  • 3 million Texans have experienced sexual assault— that’s one third of all Texans.
  • 413,000 Texans are sexually assaulted each year.
  • 92% of survivors never report to law enforcement.
  • 3% of rapists spend any time behind bars.

While sexual and domestic violence are distinct forms of violence that require their own approaches, our movements have always worked hand in hand to build a safer Texas. Here are just a few of the connections between sexual and domestic violence.

 1. Sexual assault and domestic violence are choices.

Violence is not natural, unpredictable, or uncontrollable. Abusers choose to be violent, and they can choose to stop. Perpetrators specifically target their abusive behaviors to people who (they think) they can get away with hurting. When we recognize violence as an individual’s choice, not an inevitability, we open opportunities for change.

 2. Sexual assault and domestic violence are social issues, not just individual crimes.

Perpetrators of violence are responsible for their own violence. Yet behaviors have context: social and cultural ideas about power, control, masculinity, and gender shape and influence all of us. When we acknowledge the cultures of violence within our communities, we can address deep-rooted beliefs that condone and reward violence.

3. Survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence are both subjected to victim-blaming.

“Why was she wearing that?”

“Why didn’t he fight back?”

“Why didn’t she just leave?”

Survivors are often asked accusatory questions that frame them as responsible for the violence committed against them. Victim-blaming shifts the focus from the actual perpetrator of violence onto the survivor. This is part a culture of violence that excuses the perpetrator’s choices and actions. When we listen to survivors and believe them, we can combat victim-blaming and focus on real solutions to violence.

4. We all have a role to play in building a safer Texas.

Ending violence means changing our culture – and everyone has a role to play in promoting safe and healthy standards. Check out the SAAPM toolkits from Texas Association Against Sexual Assault and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center for actions you can take during April – and all year long – to prevent sexual violence in our communities. 


Do you want to learn more about TCFV’s work and stay up-to-date with new resources? Sign up for our email list! 

Image credit: National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Creating Safer Spaces Initiatives: Why ‘Safer’?

Safer-quote

“A victim who is no longer hit by a partner but has no way to feed her children or pay the rent is not safe…Victims are safe when there is no violence, their basic human needs are met, and they experience social and emotional well-being.”

– Jill M. Davies & Eleanor Lyons

Have you ever attended one of TCFV’s trainings or read our materials and wondered; Why do they seem so intent on using the term ‘safer’ and not ‘safety’? It seems like a small difference, but shifting those two letters actually reflecst the core tenant of a service philosophy.

The philosophy: survivors of domestic violence are the experts in their own lives. Developed by leaders of the domestic violence movement, Jill M. Davies & Eleanor Lyons, this philosophy calls on advocates to focus on creating a space where survivors can reach out for the services they say they need.

It also encompasses a simple, but critical notion: Leaving does not equal safety & safety is much more than leaving. As a movement initiated by women, including women of color and the LGBTQ community who have experienced additional oppression, we are keenly aware that safety is not always easily found.

Consider:

  • Has a victim who has left their abusive partner and has nowhere to go achieved “safety”?
  • Is a victim at a shelter who is currently seeking custody of their children “safe”?
  • Is a homeless woman with domestic violence in her past “safe” on the streets?
  • What if that victim lives in poverty or is undocumented?

TCFV has created a series of trainings and resources that embrace this philosophy. We work with programs across Texas to create safer spaces for survivors to seek services, access legal remedies, and speak out about the violence they have experienced.

One way we can create safer spaces for survivors is to consider something as basic as the forms that programs use. For many survivors, the initial contact with a service provider is the moment they chose to engage with a supportive partner or to leave. Yet sometimes, the initial contact with a program can be frustrating because of forms that are repetitive or unintentionally serve to re-victimize the survivor.

The Resource Checklist - click to expand
The Resource Checklist – click to expand

After interviewing over 100 Texas survivors and program experts, we developed new model forms that are friendly and welcoming. Texas contains a wide variety of communities and cultures, so the forms take literacy and language access into account.

For example, the Resource Checklist gives survivors a quick overview of the services a survivor can access at a domestic violence center. Sometimes trauma exposure can affect the way survivors’ process information and focus. The new form separates the information into boxes with distinct colors and easy-to-understand language so that the content is easier to focus on. For each resource on the Checklist, TCFV also provides tip sheets for advocates. This gives advocates the tools they needed to support survivors on identified assistance areas.

Safety may not be simple, but by recognizing survivors as the experts in their own lives, we can work together to create safer spaces for everyone.

Do you want to learn more about TCFV’s work and stay up-to-date with new resources? Sign up for our email list! 

Image credit: “Close up of lavender flower” by Elminium is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Six women were killed by a male intimate partner in one week

Each year, TCFV tracks and analyzes every domestic violence fatality; last month we uncovered a distressing trend. From February 9 to February 16, six women lost their lives to domestic violence. One child was killed, and 8 children lost a parent.
 
We track these trends in order to help communities identify and analyze distinguishing characteristics of these cases. We need your help to create a safer Texas for all women. Will you sign and share the Purple Postcard in support of our work to preserve and increase funding for domestic violence programs?

What we know about the murders:

  • The six women were killed in five counties: Grimes, Hays, Harris, Navarro and Travis.
  • Five of the women were killed in their own homes.
  • The sixth woman was killed near a public road.
  • Every perpetrator used a gun to kill their partner.  

We only have a few more days left to make your voice heard. By signing the Postcard, you can tell your legislators that Texans care about the safety of domestic violence victims

Sign the Purple Postcard

Read more

Texas Council on Family Violence Names Members to the Board of Directors

For Immediate Release

THE TEXAS COUNCIL ON FAMILY VIOLENCE NAMES MEMBERS TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS 

Austin, Texas – February 28, 2017– The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) names board members: Sherri Kendall, CEO of AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse) in Houston; Jim Malatich, CEO of a recent merger of two domestic violence programs Hope’s Door in Collin County and New Beginning in Garland; Jeff Allar, Sr. Vice President of Human Resources for the VGL Group; Laura L. Squiers, Deputy Executive Director is the Deputy Executive Director of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation.   Several Board Members were also reappointed to serve a second three-year term beginning January 2017:  Jamie Esparza, District Attorney, El Paso; Dr. Janet Denise Lawson of Austin, former medical consultant for the Texas Department of State Health Services and Crayton Webb, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for Mary Kay Inc. in Dallas, Texas.

“The Texas Council on Family Violence takes great care and diligence in identifying key leaders in Texas to strengthen our collective responsive and prevention of domestic violence,” said Gloria Terry, President of the Texas Council on Family Violence. “It is imperative to have experienced, critical thinkers who understand the needs of survivors and the systems that support them, while simultaneously elevating TCFV’s acumen and credibility.” Read more

Statement on Recent ICE Activities Regarding Family Victims in El Paso

The Texas Council on Family Violence, the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence and the below-listed El Paso area elected officials stand together in recognizing that:

  • Texas family violence centers served over 72,000 victims last year alone.
  • 158 women were killed by their male intimate partner in 2015. 
  • 39% of all who sought services were turned away due to lack of space and resources. 

Realizing these needs and the DEADLY reality of family violence, we join together to call on all policy makers in El Paso and Texas overall to hold tight to three fundamental core values for family violence victims:

  • Victims of family violence have the right to protection using the civil and criminal justice system.
  • ALL family violence victims and the communities in which they live deserve safety from harm.  This makes our communities safer.
  • Vital to this safety, family violence victims must have unfettered access to law enforcement and the courthouse.

Gloria Terry, TCFV
Stephanie Karr, Center Against Sexual and Family Violence
Jo Anne Bernal, El Paso County Attorney
Jaime Esparza, 34th Judicial District Attorney, TCFV Board Member
Congressman Beto O’Rourke
Senator Jose Rodriguez
County Judge Veronica Escobar
Representative Joe Pickett
Representative Joe Moody
Representative Mary Gonzalez
Representative Cesar Blanco
Representative Evelina Ortega

5 Reasons to Sign the Purple Postcard: Legislative Agenda

When you Purple_Postcard_Iconsign the Purple Postcard you support our Legislative Agenda to help Texas domestic violence survivors. The common thread of the Legislative Agenda this session? Empowering survivors and supporting their safety planning. Here are five ways to support survivors this legislative session: 

1) Fully fund domestic violence programs that provide shelter and other services to victims

In 2015, 158 women were killed by a male intimate partner. That same year, 39% of requests for services were turned away due to lack of resources.  When you sign the Purple Postcard, you become part of a network of dedicated individuals and organizations advocating for the importance of domestic violence services. Now is a critical time to stand up for survivors and tell your legislators that you support full funding for domestic violence programs.

2) Keep survivors’ home addresses confidential 

Everyone deserves to be safe at home. For victims of domestic violence, part of safety planning can be keeping their home address private. While current laws allows survivors to make their addresses confidential in certain public records, there are still loopholes. For example, owning a home may put a victim’s address in the public record, allowing an abuser to potentially locate the victim. Tell your legislator to close the loopholes and make it easier for victims to keep their homes safe.

3) Protect victims from extreme and long-term abuse

Protective orders provide an added level of security for survivors. Unfortunately, Texas protective orders rarely last longer than two years, and some judges enter them for even shorter periods of time. Under the current law, only some survivors can be granted a protective order that lasts longer than two years. Often, victims who have been threatened with guns, hit by vehicles, or even stabbed are not granted long-term protective orders. Call on your legislator to update the rules and make sure that victims can access long-term protective orders.

4) Train child custody mediators on domestic violence 

Domestic violence makes decisions on child custody even more complex. Child custody professionals need training on domestic violence to help keep survivors and their children safe. Currently, mediators that handle child custody cases have no domestic violence training requirements. Lawyers and advocates agree – survivor parents use mediation, so mediators need the tools to identify and respond to abusive behavior in mediation. Let your legislator know that domestic violence training for mediators helps keep survivors and children safer.

5) Allow domestic violence survivors to get services privately and confidentially 

Intimate partner violence is just that – intimate. Vulnerable Texans should be able to get the help they need from domestic violence programs and safely share intimate details that will promote their healing without having to worry that it will become public. Unlike the majority of states, Texas has not yet granted critical confidentiality protections to bolster federal protections. State privacy and confidentiality protections would support the ability of victims to seek help when they need it most. Support a victim’s right to seek help confidentially.

Sign the Purple Postcard

Read more

2017 Young Hearts Matter Awards

Young Hearts Matter, a Texas campaign to prevent dating abuse, kicks off Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month at the Capital today. Hosted by TCFV & TAP, the event brings together youth from across the state, including the Young Hearts Matter Leadership Board who exist to build capacity, motivation, and opportunities for young leaders to promote healthy relationships in Texas. The event also recognizes key leaders from across the state who have inspired and led efforts in their own communities to promote healthy relationships among youth.

2017 Young Hearts Matter Award Winners

 

Activist of the Year

Zoe writing on board Zoe2

This award recognizes a young person who has been a driving force for social change among their peers and has done significant work to promote awareness and prevention of dating abuse in their community or school.

Zoe Arora, the Young Hearts Matter Activist of the Year, is a 15 year old sophomore at Lake Travis High School. She’s being recognized for her work with the Texas Advocacy Project’s (TAP) Teen Ambassadors of Hope Program. TAP provides FREE legal services to victims of domestic & dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. They select 20-25 student leaders for the Ambassadors of Hope program to help champion their work, promote awareness of dating violence and healthy relationships, and raise funds for the program. In addition to learning about healthy relationships, ambassadors also receive training on leadership, marketing, and branding as part of their participation.

In 2016, Zoe received the Teen Ambassador of Hope of the Year for her ability to not only raise funds for the agency, but create a widespread campaign that raised awareness about dating abuse in her community.  “Zoe’s drive and passion was evident throughout her entire fund raising campaign. Zoe went above and beyond to create an unforgettable fundraiser- a combination of collecting donations, and an interactive program to engage passersby in conversations about dating abuse awareness and prevention. She gathered a group of friends to help her table three stations in front of Whole Foods Market. The first station was where people donated and picked up flyers about the initiative. Her next station included a large white board that encouraged people to write a positive messages about healthy relationships and lastly, a station where she sang. The thought and detail she put into her fundraiser goes to show that she is a well-rounded individual who thinks about all aspects of delivering a message and engaging people through the process. In the end, she came in 1st with raising a total of $6,420! These accomplishments greatly impact the community by raising funds for survivors who need FREE legal services and by spreading the message to people of all ages to put a halt to dating abuse and violence. 

Aside from her participation in this event, Zoe is involved in her school Student Council as well as Baking 2 Benefit, where students bake for their local homeless shelter at her school. In her spare time, she partakes in a number of volunteer activities – at New Children’s Life Center, Silverado Memory Care Community, Relay for Life, School Round Up Guide and Refugee Services of Texas.” – Heather Bellino – TAP ED

Advocate of the Year

Sarah and Team Sarah Brandon This award recognizes an adult ally who partners with young people, is a leader for violence prevention in their community, and has made prevention programming more accessible as a result of their efforts.

Attorney Sarah K. Brandon received the 2017 Young Hearts Matter Advocate of the Year Award presented by the Texas Council on Family Violence. Each year, TCFV recognizes individuals who are leading the cause to prevent and end teen dating abuse from communities across Texas. Ms. Brandon was nominated by Marla Johnson of the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center.

Sarah Brandon says the award belongs to the community of Dripping Springs, specifically the students at Dripping Springs High School.

For the past six years Sarah Brandon has dedicated her time and talents to raising awareness about the dangers of dating violence, especially in Dripping Springs where she lives and manages The Law Offices of Sarah K. Brandon, P.C. Sarah initially began working with students during her time on the Board of the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center; she organized two fundraisers for the Dripping Springs Bench Bar Conferences, four Mock Trials, has been a leading member of HCWC’s Dripping Springs Town Team, helped support the 1 in 3 5K in 2015, and worked tirelessly to support each year’s HCWC Annual Auction. Through her work with the Dripping Springs Dating Violence Advisory Board (DVAB), Sarah helped form and provides mentorship to the student-led group at Dripping Springs High School. They adopted the slogan “First Love Yourself” (FLY) as a reminder to students to respect themselves and understand that they deserve to be treated well.

The original goal was to inspire these students to be empowered with the warning signs of dating violence. I found a way to do this while involving our judicial system, the school district, and the community. The students took this program and now inspire the adults, the volunteers and one another. The Dripping Springs High School students have given me confidence in the future of our community. “I now have a new goal for this program.” Brandon said, “It is to expand this program into every high school and college in the State of Texas.


TCFV would also like to recognize the amazing Young Hearts Matter Award nominees from across the state who continue to do amazing work on this issue:

Activist of the Year Nominees

Advocate of the Year Nominees

Harley&Dalight2

Da’Light Clay, San Angelo, TX – Break the Box Leadership Program

ChristyBazaldoa

Christy Bazaldua, Tulia, TX – Tulia High School Teacher

DaneilaGonzalez

Daniela Gonzalez, Brownsville, TX – Veterans Memorial Early College High School 

Cotton-Bernard

Jessica Cotton-Bernard, La Port, TX – Communities in Schools Site Coordinator at La Port High School

Harley&Dalight2

Harley Pittman, San Angelo, TX – Break the Box Leadership Program

LaTasha

La Tasha Jackson-McDougle, Fort Worth, TX – Cheryl’s Voice

InsiyaA

Insiya Aziz, Dripping Springs, TX – Dating Violence Awareness & Advocacy Board – DSHS

RosieMartinez

Rosie Martinez, Edinburg, TX – Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney – Victims Unit

XimenaCXimena Coronado, Garland, TX – Garland High School

TiffanyJones

Tiffany Jones, Dallas, TX – STAR Parent Sponsor for Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support

2016 Nominees and Winners

2015 Nominees and Winners

Honoring the Stories of Survivors

“She was the glue who kept her family together.”

“Committed her life to showing kindness to those around her.”

 “Passionate about the welfare of others, always lending a helping hand, ensuring all were treated fairly.”

“Never afraid to follow her dreams.”

-Families & friends describe women killed by domestic violence
 
In 2015, 158 women were murdered by a male intimate partner in Texas: the highest TCFV has ever recorded. The number is shocking, but it’s not unusual. Every year, more than 100 women are killed in Texas by a boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, husband or ex-husband.
 

At TCFV, we are committed to telling the story of domestic violence in Texas. Since 1990, we’ve published the Honoring Texas Victims report – because we know that every woman deserves to be counted. Within this report, you’ll find factual accounts of the women killed by their partners, telling each story with utmost care and respect. I hope that you will take a moment to reflect on some of these women’s stories. It is heartbreaking, necessary work to bring domestic violence out of the shadows.

Yet the story of fatalities is sadly just the tip of the iceberg where Texas domestic violence is concerned. Nationally, one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. In Texas, that number rises to one in three. Chances are that someone you know – if not you – has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.

Now more than ever, it’s essential that we work together to tell the story of domestic violence in Texas. Family violence is knowable, predictable, and preventable. Knowing the facts about domestic violence is the first step in being able to keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable. 

At the start of a new year, we want to make sure you have the resources you need to tell your story. Our new Learn the Facts statistics resource page is designed to be your one shop stop for facts about domestic violence in Texas. The charts, posters, infographics and reports found on this page will help you elevate the voice of survivors and share the facts about domestic violence in your community. We can’t wait to hear what you think – so let us know!

 
 
Want to stay up-to-date with Texas domestic violence news and TCFV’s work? Join our email list!

Young Hearts Matter Day of Action!

YHM_Logo_630x425

Young Hearts Matter Day of Action!

February 1, 2017

Texas Capitol – South Steps
1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
2:00 PM

Young activists from across the state are invited to join the Texas Advocacy Project and TCFV’s Young Hearts Matter Leadership Board on the south steps of the Capitol for a press conference kicking off National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month followed by an invitation to visit their legislators.

Questions? Contact Jessica Moreno for more information. 

Hosted by:  

TAP-Logo TCFV_Logo