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Honoring Texas Victims: 146 Women Killed in Texas in 2016

For Immediate Release

Honoring Texas Victims: 146 Women Killed in Texas in 2016 –– Collin, Dallas and Tarrant County have the Highest Number of Homicides in the State of Texas

Plano, Texas – October 13, 2017 – The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) today released a new report that shows 146 women were killed in domestic violence murders in Texas by their husband, ex-husband, intimate partner, boyfriend or ex-boyfriend.  Fatalities occurred in 55 Texas counties.  24 family members and friends were also killed (this includes 13 children); 4 family members and friends were injured during the incidents.

This represents the largest number of related victims since 2011.

Every year more than 100 women are killed in domestic violence homicides in Texas.   This year’s numbers are a reduction from the deaths in 2015 when the Texas Council reported the highest number of deaths in Texas since the Council began releasing its’ report.

But, this year’s report shows Collin County doubled the number of homicides from last year from 3 to 6 and Collin, Dallas and Tarrant Counties in North Texas are three of the top five counties with the highest number of homicides in the state.  Bexar County in San Antonio is also in the top five.  Harris County in Houston continues to have the highest number of domestic violence homicides in the state of Texas.

Intimate partner homicides end the lives of women who have roles as loving mothers, caring family members, and engaged community members. The women whose deaths are detailed here represent lives that left indelible marks on those around them. Many of them are remembered for the strong bonds they formed in their families and with their friends and for offering those around them kindness, compassion, encouragement

and smiles that brightened rooms. Family members often described these women as the glue that held people together’ and ‘willing to do anything for anyone’. They took pride in their roles as mothers and in the work that they did as students and in their careers. TCFV joins their families, friends and communities in mourning their loss.

146 women were killed in Texas in 2016.

158 women were killed in Texas in 2015, the deadliest year for women in Texas.   

132 women were killed in domestic violence murders in 2014.  119 women were killed in 2013.  114 women were killed in 2012.  102 women were killed in 2011.  

Other Key Stats from the report:

  • Counties with the most fatalities are: Harris (28), Dallas (13), Tarrant (13), Bexar (11), Collin (6)
  • Tarrant, Bexar, Collin each experienced increases from 2015; Harris is down from 34, and Dallas remains the same as last year.
  • 40% of women killed in 2016 had ended the relationship or were in the process of leaving when they were murdered.
  • 68% of perpetrators used a firearm to murder their female partner.
  • 77% of perpetrators killed their partners in a home.
  • Women between the ages of 20-39 represent over half of the total number of victims
  • Youngest Victim: 15
  • Oldest Victim: 92

In 2016, Hope’s Door helped victims of domestic violence and their children by:

Last year we answered 5011 calls to our hotline, provided up to 90 days of emergency shelter for 758 individuals, placed 26 families in community supported housing, and continued outreach services, including counseling, parenting skills, and financial education for 1,807 adults and children.

Jim Malatich, Chief Executive Officer of Hope’s Door New Beginning Center in Plano and TCFV Board member joined Texas Council on Family Violence CEO Gloria Terry to unveil the annual report titled: Honoring Texas Victims: Family Violence Fatalities.”

“146 innocent lives were lost and families were forever changed in senseless domestic violence murders in Texas.  6 lives were lost in Collin County. While, the recent horrific mass killing in Plano is not reflected in this report.  The homicides will be in next year’s report, we are immensely saddened by the tragic loss of life and we remember the families of those who lost loved ones and we especially want to remember the 146 families who lost a loved one this year.   When a tragic loss like this happens, it reminds all of us, how dangerous domestic violence can be to a family and a community and how much more work there is to be accomplished to ensure victims find help and safety before it’s too late,” said Gloria A. Terry, CEO of the Texas Council on Family Violence.  “Honoring Texas Victims: Family Violence Fatalities recognizes all Texas family violence victims lost in this tragic crime. “

The release of the 2016 Honoring Victims Report coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is in October.  Domestic violence all too often ends with tragic results.  

“During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we focus on three important elements of ending violence – supporting survivors, holding abusers accountable and perhaps, most important, preventing the violence before it begins by challenging the underlying attitudes and beliefs that feed violent behavior.  We are proud to partner with other agencies and organizations locally and across the state that share our commitment to ending violence on all three fronts. Together we strive to make violence a part of our past and we redouble our efforts given the recent mass murder to learn lessons, educate the public and try to prevent domestic violence fatalities in the future,” said Jim Malatich, Chief Executive Officer of Hope’s Door New Beginning Center in Plano and TCFV Board member.

The report released by the Texas Council on Family Violence and compiled from data from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas law enforcement agencies and media reports list names of the victims and gives brief accounts of their deaths.

List of Women Killed in Collin County:

Karen Bigham, 49 McKinney

06/20/16

Kelley Bigham, 50, shot and killed his wife Karen in her home office. Bigham then shot and killed Karen’s twin sister, Kathy Boobar, 50. Karen had separated from Bigham six months prior to the murder and filed for divorce. A few days before Bigham killed Karen, he came to her home and threatened her with a gun. The day of the murder, Karen asked her daughter and sister to be at the home with her while Bigham picked up some of his belongings. Bigham threatened their daughter with a gun and told her to leave the house with her son. As she fled, she called the police. Authorities arrested Bigham in a nearby county and charged him with capital murder; he received a sentence of life in prison. Karen is survived by her adult son and two adult daughters.

Kayley Winburn, 20 McKinney

10/30/16

Jordan Sullivan, 21, shot and killed his wife Kayley in their home. Authorities arrested Sullivan and charged him with murder. The couple had married a few months prior to the murder. Sullivan is awaiting trial for murder.

Karen Ann Rolston, 33 Melissa

08/09/16

John Gaynor, 41, shot and killed his girlfriend Karen in their home. Gaynor then shot and killed himself. Officers discovered their bodies when they responded to a welfare check.

Noshin Chambers, 41 Plano

03/17/16

Gardner Chambers, 45, shot his wife Noshin in their home. Chambers then shot and killed himself. Noshin’s children were in the home at the time of the murder; her 17-year-old son called police while the younger children fled to a neighbor’s home to get help. Emergency responders transported Noshin to a hospital where she later died. Noshin had feared for her safety and had filed for divorce prior to her death. The couple had a pending court hearing the week of the murder. Noshin is survived by two sons and one daughter.

Jennifer Spears, 43 Plano

05/29/16

Kenneth Amyx, 45, stabbed and killed his girlfriend Jennifer in her apartment. Amyx posted photos of Jennifer’s body on social media. After calling his father to admit to committing the crime, Amyx attempted to kill himself. Police found Amyx with non-life-threatening injuries. Authorities arrested Amyx and charged him with murder. Amyx confessed to killing Jennifer and received a sentence of life in prison.

Jessie Bardwell, 27 Richardson 

05/09/16

Jason Lowe, 27, assaulted and killed his girlfriend Jessie in their home. He then buried her body in Farmersville. After not hearing from Jessie for more than two weeks, Jessie’s family drove to Texas to file a missing person report. Law enforcement conducted two welfare checks and began an investigation into her disappearance. Officers arrested Lowe on a drug possession charge and while searching his property found evidence of Jessie’s murder. Authorities charged him with murder. Officers located Jessie’s body ten days after Lowe’s arrest. Lowe has a history of family violence. A jury convicted Lowe of Jessie’s murder in September 2017 and a judge approved an agreed-upon sentence of 50 years in prison.

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The mission of Hope’s Door New Beginning Center (HDNBC) is to offer intervention and prevention services to individuals and families affected by intimate partner and family violence and to provide education programs that enhance the community’s capacity to respond. HDNBC serves individuals from all over North Texas.  HDNBC’s services include individual counseling (for both adults and children), support group therapy, emergency shelter, rapid rehousing (formally transitional housing), legal advocacy, community education, and battering prevention programs. For more information, visit www.hdnbc.org , www.facebook.com/hopesdoor , www.twitter.com/hopesdoorinc , or www.instagram.com/hopesdoor.

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/

Go Purple – Intersections & Connections

Domestic violence effects our whole community. Each year, a network of passionate domestic violence service providers and sister organizations strive to help Texas families create opportunities for freedom from violence. Yet for too many in our state, help can be out of reach.

This week is all about building connections and recognizing intersections between domestic violence and other social justice and social welfare issues. By building connections with other organizations and passionate individuals in our communities, we strengthen our movement and our state.

Here are just some of the ways domestic violence intersects and connects throughout our communities: 

What intersections do you see that impact survivors? How do you build more connections to support survivors and their families? Share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.

Go Purple – Knowledge is Power

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and in Texas, we Go Purple and strive for a state where no woman loses her life to domestic violence. Go Purple celebrates the progress of our movement and recognize the work still ahead toward our shared vision of a Texas free from violence.

For the first week of domestic violence, we recognize that Knowledge is Power – so let’s help our communities learn the facts and inspire change. Here are some ideas to share on social media to get you started:

How are you sharing the facts for the first week of DVAM? Tag us on Facebook and Twitter to tell us your plans for #TxDVAM!

Champions for Change

For Randy Barnes, Head Football Coach at Rains ISD, coaching is more than Friday night games. “Texas high school football coaches have always been tremendous at coaching beyond the game. We want to change kids’ lives, first and foremost.”

Coach Barnes is passionate about empowering youth leaders in his athletic program, so after noticing the frequent headlines surrounding professional and college athletes involved in domestic violence cases, he decided to take matters into his own hands. The desire to lead an initiative to address violence against women was there, but Barnes had no idea where to begin. Sports play a vital role in the lives of many young athletes, and teams often act as a second family for players. “Coaches are there for them,” he said, “but I needed more tools.”

Coach Barnes began his journey to address violence against women with a prevention curriculum designed specifically for coaches called Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM). “This is a tool that will immediately make an impact in their communities,” said Coach Barnes. “It’s easy to do, it’s timely, and it may be the most important thing they do for their kids.” Once Barnes received training on CBIM, he immediately connected to his local domestic violence program to ask the prevention team to work with the students outside of his athletic program.

“I know that everybody is facing this,” said Coach Barnes, “I’ve talked to coaches from the richest schools to the poorest schools; [domestic violence] is an issue.” In fact, one in three adult Texans have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. Similarly, one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, verbal or emotional abuse from a dating partner.

As a result, TCFV further sharpened focus for athletic directors and coaches who take initiative to address dating violence within athletic communities. Earlier this year, TCFV hosted a think tank of seven coaches from different parts of Texas. The coaches began with a conversation on why a coach’s influence is vital to shifting culture within our communities. Although TCFV has a long history with the CBIM curriculum, it became clear on that day, even more was needed. Champions for Change was formed.

Champions for Change promotes safe and healthy relationships within athletic communities across Texas. To achieve their purpose, the CFC is based around four key concepts: modeling, education, creating awareness, and connecting with local programs.

  • Modeling: Coaches must model healthy relationships and lead by example to educate and inspire their athletes.
  • Creating Awareness: Addressing domestic violence begins with acknowledging that it is a real issue.
  • Education: Multi-session learning opportunities assure the same messages are received more than once (also called dosage).
  • Connection: Coaches are not alone – local domestic violence prevention programs can bring programming to schools.

“My coaches made the biggest impact on me in high school and junior high,” recalls Coach Barnes. Caring adults – including coaches, educators, and parents – can make all the difference in preventing dating abuse.


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

Go Purple Toolkit for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is just around the corner, and with it, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Get ready to challenge your community to strive for a state where no woman loses her life to domestic violence. Go Purple by standing up for domestic violence victims and survivors and taking action to end violence in our communities. Use the Go Purple Toolkit to power your advocacy! 

Go Purple Calendar
Follow along with our Social Media Calendar and explore weekly themes. Download the Social Media Graphics Pack to customize your own campaign. Graphics available in English and Spanish.

Posters & Infographics
Customize posters and infographics in English and Spanish with your agency’s contact information and local data. New video tutorials walk you through how to customize – or use the ready-to-go materials!

Go Purple Day
Wear purple on October 19 in support of domestic violence victims throughout the state. Ask your community partners and followers to join you and post photos on social media.

Honoring Texas Victims Report
Each year, TCFV’s Honoring Texas Victims Report provides our state’s most extensive analysis of women killed in Texas by a male intimate partner. TCFV will release this year’s report during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The report will help galvanize your community and provide essential data and analysis. You will find the report, as well as a summary factsheet and social media graphics, online in October.

Go Purple!

TCFV Names Members to the Board of Directors

For Immediate Release

Austin, Texas – July  11, 2017– The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) names two new at- large board members:  Shirley Cox, Senior Vice President for Frost Bank and Danielle Agee, General Counsel – South Central Market, Verizon Wireless.

“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. “We are thrilled to have two experienced leaders from the business sector  join us on the board to bring their experience and passion to help victims of domestic violence and lead our strategic decision in Texas.”

Board Members:

Shirly Cox is the Senior Vice President and North Texas/Houston Sales Manager for the public finance team for the Dallas, Fort Worth, Permian Basin and Houston regions for Frost Bank has been elected as an at-large member to the Texas Council on Family Violence Board of Directors.  Shirly has more than 25 years of banking experience, Shirley and her team work with non-profits and public entities to provide depository, lending and treasury services to our clients.  Her banking career began in 1988 at a national bank prior to joining Overton Bankshares now a part of Frost National Bank in 1993.  She served in a variety of positions on the commercial lending side and immediately prior to her current role served as Market President and Sales Manager for the Arlington/Mansfield area for 11 years.

Shirley holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a Finance major from Texas A&M University.  Community service has been an important part of her life. She currently serves as a member of the University of Texas at Arlington, College of Business Administration Advisory Council and is on the facilities committee at the YMCA of Arlington.  Her past involvement consisted of the following: board member of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, the Foundation board of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, board member of the YMCA of Arlington, chair of the board of directors of the Prevent Blindness Texas-Fort Worth chapter, chair of the board for The Women’s Shelter, president of the South Arlington Rotary Club and was a Junior Achievement volunteer.  She is a past member of the Arlington South Rotary Club, and also an honorary initiate into Delta Delta Delta Fraternity.  In 2013, Shirley was one of the honorees of the SafeHaven’s Legacy of Women Luncheon.

Danielle Agee is the General Counsel for Verizon- At Large Board Member for the Texas Council on Family Violence

Agree is the General Counsel for the twelve-state South Central Market including Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, southwestern Alabama, northwestern Florida, southern Nevada, western Tennessee, and southern Utah. 

In this role, she provides legal guidance to the Market President, the Vice President-Retail Sales and wireless field operations teams on various matters including wireless siting, dispute resolution, sales and marketing practices, and customer relations.  She also works closely with the Government Affairs and Regulatory teams in advancing public policy strategies for the Market.  She has held several positions in the legal department during her 17-year tenure at Verizon.

Danielle earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.  She also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Within Verizon, Danielle serves on the Legal Department’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and is the Executive Sponsor for the local CITE chapter, Verizon’s employee resource group for African-American employees. In the community, Danielle is part of the leadership advisory group for the University of Dallas’ Women in Business initiative, and is an active member of her church.  Danielle lives in Frisco, TX with her husband and two children.

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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/

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.”


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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.


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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. 


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Image credit: National Sexual Violence Resource Center