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Our Mission

Creating a Safer Texas

The 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 statewide reach and direct local impact, TCFV shapes public policy, equips service providers with essential tools, and initiates strategic prevention efforts. Since 1978, we have been a nationally recognized leader in our efforts to end family violence.

Our Chief Executive Officer

Mobilizing Life-Saving Services

Domestic violence tears at the very fabric of our society. With a statewide reach and direct local impact, TCFV mobilizes a network of over 100 agencies to provide life-saving services and more importantly to confront the conditions that allow violence to occur. Our core beliefs are centered on survivors as experts, prevention is foundational, and our collective work is transformative.

If you can imagine a safer Texas, you can help create it.

– Gloria Aguilera Terry
Our History

Nationally Recognized
Since 1978


The Texas Council on Family Violence was established as a nonprofit membership statewide organization on April 8, 1978, and officially incorporated on December 27, 1978.

Nine representatives from local domestic violence shelters—Debby Tucker (Austin), Catherine Chambers (Corpus Christi), Jane White (Dallas), Muffie Tatum (Denton), Diana Luna (El Paso), Lynn Bendslev (Fort Worth), Toby Myers (Houston), Ruthe Winegarten (San Antonio), and Myrt Taylor (Waco)—along with the vision and leadership from Debby Tucker resolved to form a statewide organization to provide a unified statewide presence for domestic violence survivors and service providers. On April 8, 1978, six of these women officially established the TCFV. This group coordinated its efforts with community service partners and political office holders to structure a non-hierarchical TCFV board. The group selected Toby Myers, a survivor of family violence and advocate with the Houston Area Women’s Center, as the first TCFV board representative. The Texas Secretary of State signed and officially certified the Articles of Incorporation.

TCFV opened its first office and hired four staff from January 1982-1984.

Funding for TCFV came from a three-year challenge grant from the Levi Strauss Foundation, which was matched with donations from the Haas Foundation and The Trull Foundation. In addition, funding was supported by membership dues from family violence service providers, community partners, and individual members who believed in the TCFV’s mission.

In 1982, Eve McArthur and Debby Tucker from Austin Center for Battered Women (SafePlace) were the first staff hired to open the office. Melissa J Eddy, a private practitioner and founding TCFV board member from 1978 to 1984, became the third staffer in 1984 hired as the Program Associate. Melissa held a variety of positions until her tenure ended in 1992. Janice Wood was later hired as the first administrative staff in 1984.

Beginning of Policy Advocacy

From the beginning, TCFV planned to approach the Texas legislature to ask for law changes and gain financial support for prevention and intervention.

In 1979, TCFV worked alongside Senator Chet Brooks of Houston/Galveston to establish a pilot funding program through the Texas Department of Human Services (TDHS) that appropriated $200,000 to the initial nine agencies.

In 1981, Senator Brooks and El Paso Representative Mary Polk followed TCFV’s recommendations and sponsored a bill that established the Family Violence Program in the TDHS. The Texas Legislature increased funding to $1 million, which made it possible to support more than 30 programs. Since then, every subsequent legislative session has continued to increase funding and the number of programs receiving state support!

In 1981, TCFV also pushed for criminal sanctions, making violating a protective order worthy of a Class A misdemeanor.

Beginning of Technical Assistance and Training

In January of 1982, a three-year challenge grant from the Levi Strauss Foundation made a staffed office for TCFV a reality. It was matched with donations from the Haas Foundation, The Trull Foundation and dues from programs and members who believed in the organization’s mission. Eve McArthur and Debby Tucker, both from the Austin Center, became the first official staff.

TCFV toured every shelter and family violence program in the state over the course of its first year and was contracted by the TDHS to provide significant technical assistance and support for local programs. TCFV also wrote manuals such as A Stitch in Time Saves Nine: Administering a Family Violence Shelter.

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, the Beginning of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and the passage of the Violence Against Women Act.

When the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) passed in 1984, TCFV set aside a percentage of what Congress appropriated to fund state-level work and coordination. Before the creation of the set-aside funding for state coalitions in FVPSA, only half of the states had established an office to perform state-level work and coordination. By the time TCFV came together to form the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), almost every state had an office for their coalition.

In 1989, TCFV advocated for the establishment of the Battering Intervention and Prevention Project (BIPP) and secured an initial allocation of $400,000 to fund 14 programs working with men committing violence against family and household members. This was one of the first — if not the first — state-funded civilian programs for intervention with offenders. National organizations and stakeholders such as Men Stopping Violence, Emerge and Dr. Edward Gondolf advised TCFV in the development of the program standards.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed in 1994, after the NNEDV worked closely with Joe Biden, Charles Schumer, and Representatives Patricia Schroeder and Jack Brooks to write the legislation.

Founding the National Domestic Violence Hotline

The original national hotline, operated by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, closed when funding ran out. TCFV stepped up to reestablish it, working with Senator Edward Kennedy to draft legislation that promised federal funding for the hotline. In February 1996, TCFV opened the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Download TCFV History PDF

Honoring Texas Victims

Townhall Meeting 2023

Our Impact

A Leader in
Our Efforts

Support to Service Providers

The TCFV Support to Service Providers Team offers signature conferences, customizes trainings and technical assistance to family violence service providers, Battering Intervention and Prevention Programs, and community partners. We strive to support every program in Texas with the expertise and materials needed to keep survivors safe and hold batterers accountable.

Public Policy

The TCFV Public Policy Team is a unified voice before the Texas Legislature on behalf of domestic violence victims. We support drafting and passage of laws that assist victims and survivors.


The TCFV Prevention Team seeks to accomplish long-term social change. We support prevention efforts through technical assistance, consultations, trainings and online resources, and provide a larger framework for communities across the state to engage in violence prevention.

Our Leadership

Board of Directors

Twila D. Carter
At-Large Director

Houston, TX

Maricarmen Garza
Vice Chair
At-Large Director
Chief of Programs

The Tahirih Justice Center

Houston, TX

Darlene Lanham
Region 9 Area Director
Executive Director

Asian Family Support Services of Austin

Austin, TX

Toni Johnson-Simpson
Region 4 Area Director
Executive Director

Denton County Friends of the Family

Denton, TX

Chris Fobbs
Region 1 Area Director
Executive Director

Freedom Center

Dumas, TX

Sandra Garcia
Region 2 Area Director
Executive Director

Center Against Sexual & Family Violence

El Paso, TX

Marta Pelaez
Region 5 Area Director
President | CEO

Family Violence Prevention Services, Inc.

San Antonio, TX

Whitney Burran
Region 6 Area Director
Executive Director

Family Crisis Center of East Texas

Lufkin, TX

Deborah Tomov
Region 7 Area director
Executive Director

Family Services of Southeast Texas

Beaumont, TX

Rhonda Williamson
Region 8 Area Director
Executive Director

Safer Path Family Violence Shelter

Pleasanton, TX

Andres Contreras
At Large Director

Cushman & Wakefield

Austin, TX

Staley Heatly
At-Large Area Director
District Attorney

46th Judicial District

Vernon, TX

Emilee Whitehurst
At Large Director
President & CEO

Houston Area Women’s Center

Houston, TX

Marian Harper
At Large Director
Vice President

Astros Foundation

Houston, TX

Our Members

Programs & Partners

Family Violence Program

Women’s Protective Services of Lubbock, Inc.


Women’s Center of East Texas


Women’s Center of Brazoria County


Women Together Foundation Inc./Mujeres Unidas


Women in Need, Inc.


Wise Hope Shelter & Crisis Center


Wintergarden Women’s Shelter, Inc.

Carrizo Springs

Twin City Mission – Domestic Violence Services Program


Thriving Hearts Crisis Center (formerly GVFVS)


The SAFE Alliance (AKA SAFE)

Supporting Family Violence Program

Tahirih Justice Center



San Antonio

Abigail’s Arms – Cooke County Family Crisis Center


Asian Family Support Services of Austin


Cross Timbers Family Services


Deaf Smith County Crisis Center


Dove Project, Inc.

San Saba

Families to Freedom


Family Crisis Center of the Big Bend, Inc.

Community Partner

CW Outreach Agency LLC


Lifeworks Austin BIPP


STAR Council on Substance Abuse


Behavioral Adjustment Counseling Center


Your New Beginning


Chance 2 Change


Nueces County CSCD


Texoma Alliance to Stop Abuse, Inc.


Texas Homeless Network


Travis County Counseling & Education Services