Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Speak Out at Capitol Rally
Austin, Texas — The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) and the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) and hundreds of victims’ rights advocates from across the state of Texas are rallying at the Texas Capitol to strongly support full funding for family violence programs and rape crisis centers across Texas. Last year, the 78 rape crisis centers in Texas provided free and confidential services to over 19,000 survivors and nearly 80,000 women, children and men found safe sanctuary from violence at domestic violence shelters. State funding helps support sixty-nine 24-hour shelters, 10 non-residential centers and 16 special project sites.
Hundreds of volunteers from every corner of the state traveled to the Capitol to remember the 102 women who died in domestic violence deaths in 2011, advocate for the more than 100,000 Texans who accessed services last year and remind legislators about the importance of fully funding critical programs for those who have been abused and raped.
Stephanie Bluth, from Montgomery County, is one of many who accessed life saving services at a shelter. Stephanie was married for three years. After, her ex-husband lost his company, she says he changed as a person and became emotionally abusive.
The abuse then escalated quickly to physical abuse and then one night, he locked her and their young daughter in a bathroom for 8 or 9 hours and he would come in once an hour to beat her. During one of the beatings he strangled her and she lost consciousness. He thought she was dead and he dragged her out into the hallway. He sliced her face from the top of the forehead to her nose and she now has a diagonal scar on her face. The pain woke her up and she pushed him and ran to the neighbors to escape and call the police. Her daughter suffered bruises from Stephanie lying on top of her to shield her from the attack. She lost everything and called the shelter in her county.
“Without the shelter, I would not be where I am today. I did not have anywhere to go and they were my one phone call. They let me stay in the shelter, helped me get a restraining order, helped me get therapy, went with me to court and the police station and eventually helped me get an apartment,” said Stephanie Bluth, a domestic violence survivor.
“We stand here with a united message to the Texas legislature — Full funding for domestic violence services in a necessary investment to keep Texans safe,” said Gloria A. Terry, President of the Texas Council on Family Violence. “There is no greater threat to the fabric of our society than that of violence in the home. We ask our policy leaders for full funding of these critical services,” said Terry.
Lorin Leatherwood of Houston was sexually assaulted on a rafting trip when she was only 15 years old. She remembers waking up underwater and choking, fighting to keep her head above water, screaming and running away. She was taken to a local hospital, identified her perpetrator and was finally driven to San Antonio to have a rape kit done. That day changed her life forever. High school was a blur. She felt shame and cried all the time.
The Houston Area Women’s Center got her individual counseling and group counseling where she met other women who had gone through similar experiences.
“The Houston Area Women’s Center helped turn my life around. Services that help you recover from a sexual assault are critical to helping you heal,” said Leatherwood. “I found my voice and learned that I was not alone.”
“Rape crisis centers in Texas have been modestly funded for years and cannot afford to weather any cuts to their budgets. The demand for services is growing and the consequences of not meeting these needs can have tragic results for individuals, families, and communities,” said Annette Burrhus-Clay, TAASA Executive Director.
Mary Kay Inc. and members of the Mary Kay independent sales force are also partnering with TCFV and TAASA to raise awareness among Texas lawmakers about funding needs surrounding family violence and sexual assault services.
Mary Kay will have a display of pink Cadillacs at the Capitol to support efforts to raise awareness and will be joining the rally by painting Austin Pink to share the message that love should not hurt and that Texas families need the commitment of lawmakers for funding these critical programs.
“We understand how important it is for corporations to provide financial support to non-profit organizations in their communities, but we know that it is equally important to be an engaged and active advocate,” said Mary Kay Vice President of Government Relations Anne Crews. “While we work to promote positive, pro-active legislation in states across the country, Texas is near and dear to our hearts since Dallas is home to our corporate headquarters and our U.S. manufacturing facility. We are proud to stand with hundreds of Texans on the steps of the Capitol to continue our steadfast mission of preventing and ending domestic violence.”
The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV), formed in 1978, is one of the largest domestic violence coalitions in the nation. TCFV promotes safe and healthy relationships by supporting service providers, facilitating strategic prevention efforts, and creating opportunities for freedom from domestic violence. www.tcfv.org
The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA)
The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) is the statewide organization committed to ending sexual violence in Texas. A non-profit educational and advocacy organization based in Austin, TAASA member agencies comprise a statewide network of more than 80 crisis centers that serve rural as well as metropolitan areas.
Founded in 1982, the agency has a strong record of success in community education, legal services, youth outreach, law enforcement training, legislative advocacy, and curricula and materials development.
Additional information about TAASA can be found at www.taasa.org.
About Mary Kay
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