Monday, June 28, 2004

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Attorney General Abbott, Texas Council On Family Violence Urge Loved Ones To Join Fight Against Domestic Violence

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today urged Texans to take a more active role in combating domestic violence, especially when the victim is a loved one. Abbott joined the Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) to educate friends and family of domestic violence victims about the vital part they can play in referring loved ones to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and to local safety and shelter assistance services.

“Many victims of domestic violence suffer silently each day, alone and afraid,” said Abbott. “We want all Texans to help break this silence by recognizing the signs of abuse and taking an active role to help a loved one in need. Together, we will build a Texas where domestic violence is not tolerated.”

One hundred forty women were killed during acts of family violence in Texas last year, or more than two per week, according to figures from the Texas Department of Public Safety and TCFV. A study by the Office of the Attorney General and TCFV found that 35 percent of Texans who directly identified themselves or a family member as a victim of domestic violence said they did nothing about the abuse. “Break the Silence – Make the Call”, a bilingual public awareness campaign, aims to turn the situation around by getting more friends and family members actively involved. They can help domestic violence victims by urging them to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233), and by pointing them to local domestic violence services.

Intervention by friends and family members helps victims such as Thomasina Olaniyi-Oke of Austin. Thomasina’s husband physically abused her often during their 13-year marriage. She remained with her batterer largely out of a desire to keep her family together, but with the encouragement of friends, co-workers, and her daughters, she finally left the abusive situation in 1997. She called the Hotline, which referred her to SafePlace in Austin, a women’s shelter.

“Break the Silence – Make the Call” began in 2002 with a 16-month public awareness campaign, financed in part by a $2 million grant from the Office of the Attorney General. The grant also funded research on domestic violence trends and attitudes in Texas. The campaign launched today is the second phase of “Break the Silence – Make the Call.” The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides information about available programs and services, as well as advice on how to approach a friend privately about options.