25 Member Domestic Violence Task Force Meets in Austin
Austin, Texas – Today The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) released a new report that shows an increase in the number of women killed in domestic violence murders in Texas by their husband, ex-husband, intimate partner, boyfriend or ex-boyfriend. 119 women were killed in domestic violence murders in 2013. 114 women were killed in 2012. 102 women were killed in 2011. Four women were killed in Travis County. One woman was killed in Williamson County. One woman was killed in Bastrop County. In the previous year 3 women were killed in Travis County and no women were killed in Williamson or Bastrop Counties. Dallas and Harris Counties had the highest number of domestic violence homicides in the state with 20 deaths in each county.
“Domestic violence murders are knowable, identifiable and preventable,’ 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. We hope the report will evoke deeper and more meaningful discussions about barriers and realities that affect the ability of women to escape danger within their relationships.”
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.
In 2013, perpetrators killed, in addition to their partners an additional 17 friends and/or family members. This includes 5 minor children; 5 other children were severely injured as a result of the attacks. The perpetrators injured 11 bystander or witnesses. The collateral damage from these homicides is significant and tragic. 186 children and adults in Texas lost a parent as a result of femicides in 2013. 55 children witnessed their mothers die at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.
Also, today a new Domestic Violence Task Force led by Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) CEO Gloria Terry and Dr. Jeff Temple, an associate professor and director of behavioral health and research at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, are leading a new Texas Health and Human Services Commission Task Force on Domestic Violence.
“The Texas Council on Family Violence is honored to chair the new task force and work closely with vice-chair, Dr. Jeff Temple of UT Medical Branch at Galveston and the entire task force to collaborate on women’s health care and domestic violence,” said Gloria Terry, CEO of the Texas Council on Family Violence. “Pregnant women face an increased risk of intimate partner violence, and homicide is the leading cause of traumatic death for both pregnant and postpartum women in the US. At the same time they are at increased risk and vulnerability, pregnant women in general have repeated contact with health care providers because of standard prenatal health recommendations.”
Because of both their vulnerability to domestic violence and the health care protocols already in place for them, pregnant women represent an important and ideal focus for violence prevention and intervention.
The duties of the task force:
- Examine the impact of domestic violence on: maternal and infant mortality, health of mothers, health and development of fetuses, infants and children.
- Identify the health care services available to children age 2 and younger and mothers and explore opportunities for improving the ability of those services to address domestic violence
- Identify methods to effectively include domestic violence information and support for educators and protocols for health care providers
The Texas Council on Family Violence is one of the largest domestic violence coalitions in the nation. Since 1978, TCFV, headquartered in Austin, has been a nationally recognized leader in the efforts to end family violence through partnerships, advocacy and direct services for women, children and men. Dr. Temple, a psychologist in UTMB’s Ob/Gyn department, specializes in the study and treatment of intimate partner violence. HB 2620 was a key part of TCFV’s legislative priorities during the 83rd legislative session. It calls for measures to examine and address the impact of domestic violence on the health of women and children during pregnancy through the first two years of life and to help health care providers identify signs of domestic abuse. The formation of the new Texas Health and Human Service Commission Task Force on Domestic Violence is the result of this bill.
“I am so honored to work on this important task force and to find solutions to help victims of domestic violence,” said Dr. Temple. “The physical and emotional trauma caused by domestic violence can have terrible ripple effects that permeate families and communities. This task force is going to come up with concrete ways to make a difference. I am very excited about the potential of our work to turn around thousands of families’ lives.”
The Domestic Violence Task Force directive is to identify gaps, needs and opportunities across the health care spectrum to examine the impact of domestic violence on the health of pregnant women, mother’s and young children. Committee members have been asked to develop ways to include domestic violence information in new protocols for health care providers and educators. The group is also expected to design health system responses to domestic violence against women who are pregnant and postpartum, including universal information, early screening and detection and public awareness efforts.
The task force expects to meet quarterly to gather information and craft recommendations to ultimately present in a report to the Legislature due September 2015, containing findings and legislative, policy and research recommendations for state leadership.
“Texas Council on Family Violence CEO, Gloria Terry and Dr. Temple have the expertise, experience and perspective to be strong assets to this group,” said Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Dr. Kyle Janek, who appointed Terry and Temple to the task force.
Some key statistics include:
- Travis County had an increase in the number of deaths at 4 (3 previous year)
- Williamson County and Bastrop County had an increase in the number of deaths to 1 in each county. (Neither County had a homicide the previous year)
- Dallas County & Harris County have the highest number of deaths at 20 in each county
- 76% of the women were killed at home
- 58% were shot
- 22% were stabbed
- 6% were strangled
- 21 women had taken steps to leave
- 17 bystanders or witnesses killed
- 11 bystanders or witnesses injured
Anyone who is a victim of domestic violence and needs help can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
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/