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Domestic Violence and Firearms


Does having a gun in the home keep you safer? For victims of domestic violence, the answer is a resounding no.

Domestic violence abusers can use to firearms threaten, endanger, and intimidate their victims in order to exercise power and control. In a recent survey of callers to the National Domestic Violence Hotline[i]:

  • 16% of the callers said their partners had access to guns, 22% of whom had threatened to use the firearm to kill the victim or her family or to kill themselves.
  • 10% said their partner had actually fired the gun in an argument.
  • 67% of the callers believed their partner was capable of killing them.

Last year, 158 women were killed by a male intimate partner, 97 of them with a firearm.

Under state and federal law, felons, respondents to protective orders, and convicted family violence abusers cannot possess firearms. Texas law allows the local criminal justice community to come together to implement firearm surrender protocols, however only a few have done so.

Survivors, along with nearly 80% of Texans, support requiring domestic violence abusers to surrender their firearms.[ii] 

Key jurisdictions have adopted firearm surrender protocols. For instance, Dallas County Judge Roberto Cañas led the development and implementation of a system in his jurisdiction tailored to work in that community. Bexar, El Paso and Travis Counties have also taken on similar bold efforts.

TCFV works with communities to develop policies that keep survivors safe and hold offenders accountable. We provide education and support for cities and towns dedicated to disarming domestic violence abusers.

Your support can help implement solutions that offer real world answers to lethal family violence. Sign the Purple Postcard to tell our legislators that you support full funding for domestic violence services. 

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Working Together


In Laredo, Anjelica Martinez was murdered by her husband last year. Her three young children, ages 3, 8, and 9, are left without a mother.

Pregnancy and early motherhood is a particularly dangerous time for women and their young children in an abusive relationship. Around 25% of women murdered by a male intimate partner last year were either pregnant or were mothers to young children, according to TCFV’s Honoring Texas Victims Report.

“We know that domestic violence is exacerbated during pregnancy,” said Sister Rosemary Welsh, Executive Director at Casa de Misericordia. “But a lot of people don’t recognize [domestic violence] as a public health issue.”

Doctors and patients have routine conversations about nutrition and exercise, but when was the last time your health care provider asked you about your relationship? Simple but effective screenings for domestic can help survivors get the help they need safely.

Casa de Misericordia is partnering with local health care providers this week to recognize Health Cares About Domestic Violence (HCADV) Day on October 12. HCADV Day is an opportunity for health care providers and domestic violence advocates to build meaningful connections and promote tools and techniques to support survivors. 

One key takeaway? “Look them in the eye,” advises Sister Rosemary to doctors and health care workers. “There are so many touchstones in how health providers can intervene in domestic violence.”

She recounted the case of a woman with diabetes whose blood sugar continued to be high despite consistent check-ins at home and at the clinic. The promotores (community health workers) noticed that her husband was always with her and answered questions for her. “He wanted to come into the room at the clinic,” said Sister Rosemary, and when nurses turned him away, he gave his wife his phone – with a call connected so he could listen in.

The promotores kept following up with the patient, and eventually she confided her abusive relationship. “She had told her physician when she was pregnant, but they didn’t do anything. We were the first people who seemed to care. She continues to come to us, and she knows there is a lifeline out there,” explained Sister Rosemary. 

Dr. Joselyn Fisher, Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics at Baylor College of Medicine, recalled similar experiences. “I’ve seen many cases were women have been in abusive relationships for a long period of time and were never asked, and they experienced partner violence far longer than they might have.”

Baylor College of Medicine is also planning to Go Purple this October. The campus will light their fountain up purple and hang purple lights to recognize domestic violence in their community, and share awareness posters with contact information for local shelters. The school will also host a panel that provides continuing medical education credits. 

Want to get involved in Health Cares about Domestic Violence Day? Here’s three easy ways:

  1. Share a fact about health and domestic violence
  2. Join TCFV’s webinar: HCADV – The Texas Health Summit and Future Developments
  3. Sign the Purple Postcard below to tell your legislator you support family violence programs. 

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Everyone Can Play A Role

Pillich2Everyone can play a role in preventing domestic violence. Caring adults – educators, parents, and community members – play an important role in the lives of young people at a time when they are learning necessary skills to form positive relationships with others. Adults like Coach Pillich in Manor, TX work with young people to promote healthy relationships and prevent patterns of dating violence that can last into adulthood before they begin. This is why she is the 2016 Young Hearts Matter Advocate of the Year.

Do you know a young activist or adult who partners with young people to prevent teen dating violence and domestic violence? Nominate them for the 2017 Young Hearts Matter Awards. Recipients are announced in February 2017 and receive a $200 honorarium. Nomination deadline: December 16th, 2016. Contact Jessica Moreno, Prevention Coordinator for more info. Jmoreno@tcfv.org

Schools can play a role too! Submit a toolkit request form by December 16th and have the Young Hearts Matter toolkit delivered to campuses in your community in time for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in February! 


The most common form of abuse


Did you know that 99% of domestic violence survivors reported experiencing some form of financial abuse?

Financial abuse focused on maintaining control and limiting a survivor’s access to financial resources. It includes:

  • Forbidding a partner to work
  • Sabotaging a partner’s employment
  • Denying a partner’s access to money
  • Hiding assets from a partner
  • Taking on credit or utility debt in a partner’s name

Read more

5 Reasons to Sign the Purple Postcard


1. You can amplify the voice of domestic violence survivors. 

Sign the Postcard to show you stand alongside survivors. We are powerful when we speak in unison.

2. 15,000 adults seeking shelter from an abusive relationship were turned away last year. 

Nearly 40% of adults seeking shelter are turned away due solely to lack of space. Everyone deserves a place to stay when home is not safe. 

3. Now is the best time to make our voices heard.

The Texas legislature only meets every other year. Now is the best opportunity to make sure that funding for domestic violence services is preserved and increased.

4. You believe in safe and healthy communities.

What would our communities look like if safe and healthy relationships were the expectation for everyone? Working together, we can change community norms and promote values that help us all be safe. 

5. Family violence murders are knowable, predictable and preventable.

158 women were killed by a male intimate partner in 2015 – one death is too many. Domestic violence deaths exhibit predictable patterns. We can redouble our efforts to prevent them.

I support full funding for family violence services!

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Spotlight on a Young Leader

“I wasn’t a typical high school,” says Jimmy James, a quiet young man whose life changed by joining Houston Police Department’s Youth Police Advisory Council (YPAC).

“When I met Jimmy, he couldn’t open his mouth. Now he won’t shut it!” jokes his mentor Rhonda Collins Byrd.

Recognizing that teens are overlooked, the chief of police convened YPAC where participants conduct service projects, facilitate Teen Court, and train peers and adults on dating violence and suicide prevention. The program has increased understanding and dialogue between HPD and area youth. Read more