The River | 2020

a digital publication by the Texas Council on Family Violence

The River | 2020

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (TDVAM). We dedicate this month to promoting violence prevention education and raise awareness of teen dating violence. This newsletter highlights a few TCFV initiatives, a toolkit to support your community efforts, and introduces you to changemakers leading the work in Texas.

This year marks the 10th anniversary when Congress designated the entire month of February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention from its original full week designation.  To commemorate the anniversary, the theme for this year is Outrage into Action. This a call to everyone to take action – let’s address the underlying conditions that uphold violence and listen to the voices of young people.

Each day, we see the impact of teen dating violence on the lives of young people and our communities. In 2017, there were 136 women killed by an intimate partner. Of the 136, six were under the age of 19. The youngest victim was 14 years old. In 2018, Texas experienced a dramatic increase, with 174 women who lost their lives to violence. Of these 174, eight young people lost their lives, including Shana Fisher, age 17, Santa Fe high school student murdered by an individual when she rejected his unwanted advances. We mourn their lives cut short by violence and commit to creating lasting social change in their honor.

We draw inspiration from the countless parents, teachers, educators, and community leaders working tirelessly to promote healthy relationships and provide support to young people. We also draw inspiration from young people and their wisdom. This month and the days beyond, we commit to stand shoulder to shoulder with you to create a world free of violence.

To build on this year’s theme, we invite you to join us on February 14 at the Young Hearts Matter at the Capitol.  Led by our Young Hearts Matter Leadership Board, this event is a time for us to listen to young people discuss their experiences with teen dating violence, its impact on their communities, and hear their vision on how to end the violence. Join us as we build a healthy community and say no to violence!

– The TCFV Prevention Team

Honoring Texas Victims

In 2018, Texas lost eight young women, ages 19 or younger, to domestic violence. This February, we mourn and honor their lives through the Honoring Texas Victims report. Find out more about Texas victims and these young women in the 2018 report.

Clarissa Riojas | 18 years old | San Antonio | 4/25/18

Erin Castro | 19 years old | San Antonio | 9/2/18

Lorena Lopez | 19 years old | Dallas | 8/1/18

Lourdes Sandoval | 16 years old | Houston | 9/12/18

Sabrina Herrera | 19 years old | Missouri City | 8/27/18

Shana Fisher | 16 years old | Santa Fe | 5/18/18

Taylor Auzenne | 18 years old | Houston | 10/12/18

Yajaira Garcia | 17 years old | Wichita Falls | 11/3/18

Young Hearts Matter Awards

Young Hearts Matter (YHM) is a Texas campaign that works to prevent dating abuse and support young people and adult allies who are advocating social change. Each February awards are given to two outstanding individuals and one outstanding organization partner.

Activist of the Year

Young Hearts Matter (YHM) is a Texas campaign that works to prevent dating abuse and support young people and adult allies who are advocating social change. Each February awards are given to two outstanding individuals and one outstanding organization partner.

Isaac Camacho and Thaiz Martinez | 2020 Activists of the Year

Isaac Camacho and Thaiz Martinez from Odessa High School are TCFV’s 2020 Young Hearts Matters Activists of the Year! They are receiving this award for elevating awareness of teen dating violence in their community. Isaac and Thaiz served on the Crisis Center of West Texas’s Teen Leadership Council during its pilot year in 2019, where they planned and executed community-wide events around domestic violence prevention and acted as ambassadors for healthy relationships among their peers.The two teens also helped lead a local vigil in honor of recent victims who lost their lives to domestic violence, where Thaiz read aloud the narratives of victims from Ector, Midland, and Ward counties. To increase awareness about dating violence prevention, both students rallied their classmates to wear purple on Go Purple Day during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and directed in-class activities such as “In Their Shoes,” a role-playing exercise that teaches youth how to identify and handle abusive relationships.“It’s incredible to witness how much our youth cares about their peers’ safety and wellbeing, especially in dating relationships,” said Damariz Medina, who nominated Isaac and Thaiz for the award and was the architect of the crisis center’s Teen Leadership Council. “One of the biggest influences on youth is what their own age group says and does, so that’s why it’s important to have teens involved in spreading the message that dating violence is 100 percent preventable and inexcusable.”

Advocate of the Year

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.

Damariz Medina | 2020 Advcoate of the Year

Damariz Medina is TCFV’s 2020 Advocate of the Year! She is the prevention educator manager at the Crisis Center in West Texas and is receiving this award for her dedication to supporting young people in their efforts to end dating violence. When Damariz started noticing some of her own friends were struggling with unhealthy relationships, violence, and bullying, she brainstormed ways to educate and involve the community with domestic violence prevention.Inspired by TCFV’s Young Hearts Matter Leadership Board,Damarizis responsible for the inception and piloting of the Teen Leadership Council at the crisis center, recruiting youth from Odessa-areahigh schools for the council and crafting the curriculum for council meetings. Because of her passionate outreach, twice as many teens applied for council positions than expected, and the center now has a full leadership council.

Texas Partner for Change

Every February, the country recognizes Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and TCFV recognizes a Texas Partner for Change. This award recognizes a community leader or organization whose partnerships and efforts have given voice to violence prevention and have inspired systemic or community-wide change across the state of Texas.

Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s Office | 2020 Texas Partner for Change

This year the Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s office—under the leadership of DA Ricardo Rodriguez, Jr.—is being honored as the 2020 Texas Partner for Change.

The Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s Office is an incredible ally to young people who are working to make their communities safer. The strategies and methods theyhave employed have elevated youth voices and violence prevention efforts. The DA’s office has been instrumental in marketing healthy relationship messaging to youth throughout Hidalgo and the surrounding region by fostering the Young Hearts Matter initiative. Youth are empowered to speak up for themselves and their peers thanks to the DA’s office giving them platforms to speak up and advocate for change.“I look forward to The Young Hearts Matter Awards every year because they showcase how individuals and organizations can band together to make a positive impact in their communities,” said Terry. “Everyone involved in Young Hearts Matter is a leader because they’ve chosen to take up the cause of domestic violence as their own, to make sure their community knows it is preventable, and to work towards a future where not another lifeis lost because of it.”

SHACs: Conduits to Successful Community Collaborations for Prevention

School Health Advisory Councils (SHACs) advise school districts on health curricula and other aspects of creating a safe and healthy school environment. SHACs that have family violence advisors/partners can receive much needed education on how teen dating violence and healthy relationship education should occur in a community. With the help of Family Violence Advocates, SHACs are best positioned to understand the intricacies of providing vital education for teens, their parents, and school officials. Are you currently engaged in your local SHAC? If not, now is the time to find a seat at the table.

SHACs are charged by the Texas Legislature to develop an annual report that outlines: the scope of their work, recommendations for new and updated policies, and recommendations on related matters; like, teen dating violence intervention and prevention. Since 2011, Senate Bill 736 has listed family violence programs as permissive members of SHACs.  Furthermore, during the 2019 Texas Legislative season SHACs were further elevated in their charge with the passing of Senate Bill 11 and House Bill 18. With such a vital position, SHACs need the expertise of preventionists from family violence programs to ensure the efficacy of their recommendations.

How do you find your local SHAC?

A solid step to finding your local SHAC chapter is to contact your school district’s administrative office. You may experience a few transfers as folx locate the best person to speak on SHAC related business. Once you are connected, you can begin assessing how you (on behalf of your organization) can engage with the SHAC. If you find there is not a SHAC formed in your community, it is possible to organize a group to serve as your school district’s SHAC. There are important steps to understand before you embark on this path: from aligning with the Texas Education Code’s requirements to gaining the support of your school district. TCFV can support you in understanding these steps, so, please reach out to us for detailed support.

What is the role of Family Violence Programs with SHACs?

Once you have positioned yourself as a member of the SHAC, consider the following as way to elevate your contributions.

  1. Position yourself as an ally to SHAC members. It is vital to begin your engagement by learning about the needs parents and community members have expressed. Listening before offering suggestions is vital to engaging as an ally. If done in a collaborative and cohesive manner, SHAC members can further support your organization’s mission and elevate your future recommendations.
  2. Assess your school district’s progress in addressing teen dating violence. Responses to teen dating violence vary across communities. Take time to familiarize yourself with the actions that have been taken and what the future entails.
  3. Be a resource for the SHAC. Provide information on how best to perform intervention and prevention based on current and past activities of your SHAC. Knowing and understanding Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) will help you understand how your recommendations would fit in with educational requirements. TCFV has a great webinar to help hone your understanding of TEKS.
  4. Voice your recommendations related to healthy relationship and violence prevention curricula. Emphasize the Texas Legislature’s required awareness component to HB 121 (requirement for schools to have a teen dating violence policy): which includes PREVENTION! This is an area where your expertise can make a huge impact.

For more information on SHACs and your organization’s engagement, contact Roy Rios with the Prevention Team or Molly Voyles with the Policy Team. We would love to support you in engaging with your SHAC.

Oppression 101

Teen dating violence, intimate partner violence, gender-based violence, domestic and sexual violence, family violence. These terms all have technical, often legal definitions. Yet, “The Movement” often uses them interchangeably. Advocates and preventionists are very familiar with the fact that relationship violence (regardless of the specific or legally nuanced type) is always—at its core—rooted in power and control. The power and control dynamics of abusive and unhealthy relationships are well-known, even if they are not always easily or outwardly identifiable.

While this dynamic and the term “power and control” are familiar, relationship violence is not always contextualized in terms of oppression. Historically violence has been used by oppressors to assert, protect, and maintain their societal and interpersonal power and control. Somehow relationship violence often gets left out of this conversation. However, violence used against and intimate or dating partner(s) is oppressive. Fear, social and economic isolation, bodily and psychological harm, manipulation, coercion, threats, intimidation, and gaslighting are tools and tactics oppressors (a.k.a., offenders, perpetrators, abusers) use to keep victims and survivors in disempowered, subordinate roles.

This dynamic can continue well after a relationship ends. The oppressive (ex-)partner often can continue to direct abuse at the survivor, often with through the collusion of societal systems. By not fully understanding or accepting the oppressive nature of relationship violence, systems and the individuals who work in them—law enforcement, medical providers, judges, lawyers, legislators, counselors, child welfare workers, teachers, family, friends, and yes, even advocates—can create barriers, distribute misinformation, pass and enforce rules and laws that culminate in the devaluation and deprioritization of the survivor—their ability to escape the abuse, their ongoing safety, their health and well-being, ability to establish economic autonomy, and their opportunities for housing and employment stability.

Relationship abuse is a form of oppression and a tool of oppressors. By framing relationship abuse in the larger context of oppression, communities should be able to see the intersectional nature of this violence. They should be able to identify the systems involved in perpetuating oppressors’ opportunities to abuse while simultaneously diminishing victims’ opportunities for survival. By identifying the interconnectedness of these systems, communities (and individuals) can be better prepared to implement true violence prevention strategies and strive to reduce the prevalence of relationship violence.

Want to learn more about this topic?

Keep an eye out for TCFV Prevention Regional Meetings coming this Summer!

Summer Engagement

The summer months can be a difficult time to create prevention focused activities due to many people being on vacation and schools being out of session. Although it can be difficult to continue prevention efforts, there are many other areas and groups that educators can engage with. From engaging young people to working in much larger systems, below are some ideas to maximize the time spent out of school communities during the down time of summer. If you have any questions about how to get started or you simply want to be connected to a program that is doing one of the options mentioned below, please feel free to contact the TCFV Prevention team.

Youth Centered

Camps | Summer camps can vary in length and can present more opportunities to provide prevention education to communities. Yet, figuring out who, what, when, how and where can be challenging. When developing a summer camp, there are many different steps that need to be taken. First, decide who it is for. Working with fourth graders will look a lot different than working with high school students. Thus, in order to create age appropriate content, deciding who is the targeted audience is a crucial first step. 2) Create a layout of what the camp will focus on. What topics will be discussed? How long should the days be? Creating an outline of a desired program will give you a great tool when creating stakeholders and finding the support needed. 3) Financial support is one of the most difficult aspects of creating any program. Brainstorming on who already supports programming and asking for donations (money, meeting space, food, etc.) is one way to obtain the support needed.

Stakeholder’s Groups | Has it been a while since you talked to young people about what they like or do not like about your program? Creating a stakeholder’s group and asking detailed questions about what could be better and more inclusive is a great way to make sure your programming is up to date and the best it can be. To get started creating a stakeholder’s group, identify people whom you have worked with and know about your program or have been through your program. Find time and space to get those interested together to ask specific questions about what they like, what could be better and where they would like to see prevention efforts go. If there are finances available or community partners who are willing to help, being able to provide incentives or food is a great motivation to get people to come to stakeholder’s meetings.

Boy’s/Girl’s Club | Working with the local boy’s and girl’s clubs of your community is a great way to stay involved and make change. If a relationship already exists between you and the local club, providing a detailed outline of a program or class that could benefit their program, as well as your prevention efforts, can build an even stronger affiliation. If a relationship does not exist, reach out to the leadership team and see how you can help their efforts. By meeting a need that the club has, you are showing that you not only want to help them, but you are reliable and trustworthy. Each city has their own chapter of clubs and will individually need to be found. Additionally, learning who they partner with can increase who you can build connections with.

Community Focused

Local First Responders and Hospitals | Working with local law enforcement and first responders is a great way to make an impact on your community. All first responders and hospitals will, at some point, work with survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual violence and teen dating violence. Making sure that they have information on how to approach those who have experienced this type of violence will create a change in how these cases are handled. In addition, creating and offering trauma informed prevention trainings will allow them to better understand the dynamics at play in these relationships and how they can be on the lookout to make changes within their policies and procedures.

Finding a community engagement specialist or training coordinator is the best choice when trying to establish a relationship with these communities. Ask how you can support their training efforts or required community engagement procedures. Figuring out what these teams are mandated to do, what aligns with your work, and how you can satisfy their requirements is the best way to establish a relationship with them. Remember: doing your homework to know about policies, procedures and what is already done before reaching out will give you an advantage on what you can offer.

City Officials | Would you like to have February officially declared Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month for your community? Or maybe you would like to see different policies changed? Reaching out and connecting with your city officials during the summer down time can greatly enhance the influence you have. To begin doing this work, there are a couple of different routes that may work best. 1) Ask your leadership what connections have already been built. Many different local domestic violence agencies already have existing relationships with community members and city officials. Check to see who you can meet with and what advantages you already have. 2) Attend city council meetings. Many different types of community members attend city council meetings, which makes them a great place to network, find the needs of a city, and make yourself known. By being involved, you not only show the community that you care, but that you are willing to put forth effort to make their city the best it can be. 3) Request to be put on a city council meeting agenda. Make yourself and your efforts known. Allow people to see your transparency and ask any questions they have. By putting yourself and your program out there, you are generating interest and may make connections with organizations you never thought to partner with.

Library | Looking into your library’s summer plans and seeing where you fit in can be a great benefit to you and to your community. Check to see if you can lead a class, start a book club, display specific books during awareness months and so much more! Library’s, like prevention, often must get creative with community involvement and programs. Meeting the Librarian may give you access to groups of people that are hard to connect with in other areas and challenge you to think in ways you have not before.

Adult Directed

Places of Employment | Prevention does not have to be limited to working with young people. Connect with different organizations to offer sexual harassment trainings, healthy relationships within the workplace or how adults can prevent violence. Doing some research about the laws and policies workplaces must adhere to will give you ideas on what needs you can meet with your trainings and programs. Once you have identified what you can do, contact Human Resources, or a similar position, and start building connections.

Faith Communities | Faith communities remain active during the summer, allowing you a way to be involved all year long. However, every faith community is different and doing some research beforehand can take you a long way. Do not assume to know who they are, want they need or what they want.  Reaching out to a leadership member or someone who builds community engagement to learn about their needs as a faith community is a great way to see how you can meet their violence prevention needs. Consider attending services to learn more about who they are and what they do. Attending a service will also allow you to meet people face to face and show them that you are invested and care about who they are.

Agency Partners | Each local domestic violence or sexual assault agency already has some amazing community partners. Talk to those in your organization to better understand who is already involved, relationships that are being built and places that the agency would like to work with. Having a better understanding of these connections allows you and other teams within your agency to work together and remain on the same page. Once identified, reach out to those partners to see how they can support your prevention programming and how you can support them during those summer months.

Young Hearts Matter Toolkit |

Introducing the brand new Young Hearts Matter Toolkit |

The Prevention Team has re-envisioned the Young Hearts Matter: Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Toolkit. The pieces contained in this toolkit, aim to support your work with young and adult activists in a variety of settings. Many of the toolkit pieces will be avaliable to download. In addition, we’ll have a limited quanitity of physical copies of each item.

What's in the toolkit?
  • Know the Difference handout: This handout provides a side-by-side comparison between healthy and unhealthy relationships. This tool is great as a student handout or poster and can be downloaded to place on websites and social media.
  • Dating Bill of Rights handout: Young people can use this as a guide or pledge to choose healthy relationships. This tool is great as a student handout or poster and can be downloaded to place on websites and social media.
  • Youth Activism Guide: Use this tool to gain ideas on how you can build awareness about dating violence in your school community through social media and awareness activities. The tip sheet seeks to engage young people in a variety of creative ways to be active in violence prevention.
  • Dating Violence Infographic: This handout provides information on the prevalence of dating violence in the lives of young people. Use this tool to start a conversation in person or online.
  • Teen Safety Plan: This safety plan will guide you in helping young people stay safer while navigating unhealthy or abusive relationships. This guide covers a variety of safety levels, including digital safety.
  • Minor’s Rights Tip Sheet: This informative guide will explain minor rights to safety, healthcare, and navigating the legal system.

To learn more about the YHM Toolkit and download pieces, please go here.

The new toolkit will also be avaliable in Spanish.

| Young Hearts Matter Leadership Board

Pictured L to R: Pablo Morales, Zander Carrillo, Noah Molina, Vivian Sanchez, Jaycee Baker, Hamza Iqbal (Not Pictured: Santino Camacho)

The 2019-2020 Young Hearts Matter Leadership Board (YHMLB) is a group of seven amazing high school students from across the state of Texas. These young people hail from seven of the nine TCFV regional divisions. They have committed to serving the Board for one year, with three of them returning for a second year of service. As members of the YHMLB, they inform TCFV’s work from a youth perspective through feedback and recommendations; they help plan for a Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month event in February; they champion a local service project in their individual communities; and they participate in various events TCFV plans in such capacities as emcee, panelist, and panel moderator.

This year the Board is coordinating Young Hearts Matter at the Capitol—an event designed to provide a forum for young people to speak and discuss the impacts of teen dating violence on them and their communities. This event will be held on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th, 2020 to remind us that love should not hurt. The Board will be speaking along with a representative from Break the Cycle. A legislative update will be provided, the 2020 Young Hearts Matter Awards will be presented, and a moment of silence will be held for the teens killed by an intimate or dating partner in 2018—whose stories are included in TCFV’s most recent Honoring Texas Victims (HTV) report. Afterwards the YHMLB will be delivering copies of HTV and the Texas State Plan to all of the Texas state legislators’ offices at the Capitol.

The three members returning for a second year of service are Hamza Iqbal from Plano (TCFV Region 4), Santino Camacho from Eastland (TCFV Region 3), and Zander Carrillo from Lumberton (TCFV Region 6). YHMLB’s new members are Jaycee Baker from Bastrop (TCFV Region 9), Noah Molina from Hondo (TCFV Region 8), Pablo Morales from Lockney (TCFV Region 1), and Vivian Sanchez from The Woodlands (TCFV Region 7).

If you’re interested in joining the YHMLB, keep a lookout on TCFV’s website and social media for the application release in the Spring of 2020!

Texas Council on Family Violence
PO Box 163865
Austin, TX 78716

P 512.794.1133
F 512.685.6397

© 2020 Texas Council on Family Violence