Monday, August 28, 2006

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Attorney General Abbott And Texas Council On Family Violence Unite In Campaign Against Dating Violence

SAN ANTONIO – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) Executive Director Sheryl Cates today launched the third and final installment of the highly successful “Break the Silence: Make the Call” domestic violence research and public awareness campaign.

This last initiative, “Red Flags: Know When To Raise Them,” is designed to help young Texans form healthy relationships by learning to detect and deter date-related violence. It also encourages them to act by getting more information themselves or referring the abuse victims in their lives to local domestic violence programs and services.

“I am honored to have worked for over three years with the Texas Council on Family Violence in bringing greater awareness to the tragedy of domestic abuse,” said Attorney General Abbott. “The latest installment of this campaign will reach potential victims and abusers at a young age, so that they can recognize and change their actions before falling into a life-long pattern of abusive relationships. TCFV’s worthy effort to educate young Texans about dating violence is another key step towards ending the sad cycle of domestic violence.”

"I want to thank Attorney General Abbott for his enthusiastic support over the years of our ongoing effort to give victims of domestic abuse a voice and the confidence they need to break the cycle of violence in their lives,” said Executive Director Cates. “The 'Break the Silence' campaign has touched countless families in Texas over these past three years, and the important research and insights this work has yielded will be the cornerstone of future domestic violence prevention efforts for years to come."

According to research TCFV conducted as part of this campaign, dating violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors that one person uses to control their partner in a relationship. Verbal abuse like yelling or threatening a partner can quickly escalate to physical abuse, including pushing, punching or choking, or sexual abuse.

In March 2006, TCFV conducted a survey of young Texans ages 16 to 24 to determine the prevalence of dating violence in Texas. The results revealed that 75 percent of respondents had either personally experienced dating violence or knew someone who had. Older respondents, those living in larger cities, and those who met their partner online were more likely to experience dating violence. Half of the female respondents said they had personally experienced dating violence, including 33 percent who had experienced physical or sexual violence in a dating relationship.

The TCFV survey also indicated that nearly three-quarters of respondents had sought help with their victimization from a peer or trusted adult, including parents, teachers, and religious leaders. “Red Flags: Know When To Raise Them” is aimed at empowering all victims with information about life-saving options and resources available to them, including incorporating the National Domestic Hotline as one of the first resources they should rely upon: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

In connection with the public awareness campaign, TCFV has dedicated a Web site to disseminating the message to teens and young adults at

In 2003, the Office of the Attorney General announced the $2 million grant to TCFV for the "Break the Silence: Make the Call" bilingual public awareness program, which began with extensive research via a statewide poll and focus groups with survivors of abuse to determine the knowledge base and direct impact of domestic violence in Texas. The results of this research indicated that friends and family of victims need specific information in order to effectively help their loved ones who are experiencing abuse.

Attorney General Abbott joined TCFV to launch the second phase of the program in 2004. The initiative expanded the public awareness efforts and education to friends and family of abuse victims, offering information on how to recognize possible signs of abuse, what friends and family can do to help loved ones in abusive relationships and how to contact local domestic violence programs and services. At the time, it was revealed that about 150 women a year die in Texas at the hands of domestic violence, and after friends and family members fail to act to guide the victim toward resources available to help them.

Grant funding to victim advocacy organizations is provided through the state Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund, which is managed by the Office of the Attorney General. Following a formal application and review process, grants are awarded statewide for services such as grief counseling, shelters for abuse victims, and to advocate for victims of violent crime.

In addition to the crime victim assistance grants, last year the Attorney General’s Crime Victim Services Division provided more than $85 million from the Fund directly to help victims pay for medical and out of pocket emergency expenses and other costs associated with the crimes committed against them. More information about the Crime Victim Services Division is available by calling (800) 252-8011 or by visiting the Attorney General’s Web site: