October is observed as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I thank all of those in the crime victims' community for your commitment and your compassion for domestic violence survivors. You restore hope where hope has been stolen. At the same time, you protect hope by working to prevent domestic violence. We at the Office of the Attorney General are proud to stand with you in this noble and much needed effort.
February marks National Teen Violence Awareness and Prevention Week. This issue of our Crime Victim Services Update focuses on teen dating violence awareness, and we are grateful to the Texas Advocacy Project, the Bexar County Family Justice Center, the Travis County Sheriff's Office, Safeplace and the Texas Council on Family Violence for their contributions.
Also included is information on recent legislative changes that impact our Crime Victim Services Division. Among those changes is a new requirement that we create an address confidentiality program for victims of family violence, stalking, and sexual assault by June 1, 2008. Additionally, we have created and posted a pseudonym form for victims of family violence and have amended our Crime Victims' Compensation Application to reflect legislative directives.
Finally, I want to encourage you to join advocates from across the state and nation at our Crime Victim Services Conference November 13-15 in San Antonio. It will be a great opportunity to receive training and to network with others in the crime victim advocacy community.
Attorney General of Texas
New Crime Victims' Compensation (CVC) applications are available for distribution and on the OAG website. After each state legislative session, the Office of the Attorney General and the Crime Victim Services Division review the application form to ensure its compliance with statutory changes.
The requirement that victims and claimants must elect to allow public access to information held by the Office of the Attorney General was eliminated with the passage of HB1042 last session. The effective date of this legislation is Sept 1, 2007. The new Crime Victims' Compensation application reflects this change with the omission of page 6, CONFIDENTIALITY ELECTION BY VICTIM, of the old application. Information about the application that will still be public includes: the name of the victim or claimant, the date of award, and the amount of the award.
The Office of the Attorney General has developed a pseudonym form for victims of Family Violence as directed by Chapter 57 B of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Confidentiality of Identifying Information of Family Violence Victims. Copies of the form may be downloaded from the OAG Web site.
Pseudonym forms for victims of Sexual Violence may also be downloaded.
With increased public access to personal information, there is a rising need for address confidentiality for victims of family violence, stalking, and sexual assault. Fearing for their safety, many victims do not obtain a driver's license or register to vote. Thirty-one states have authorized programs to protect the location of victims of family violence, sexual assault, and stalking through the establishment of a confidential mailing address or address confidentiality program.
Senate Bill 74 amends Article 56 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, by adding Subchapter C, Address Confidentiality Program for Victims of Family Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is charged with creating and maintaining an address confidentiality program to assist these victims by by June 1, 2008.
Under the program, the Crime Victim Services Division will designate a substitute post office box address that a participant may use in place of the participant's actual residential, business, or school address. The Division will also act as an agent to receive service of process and mail on behalf of the participant and forward to the participant first class mail received by the OAG on behalf of the participant. This substitute address can be used as the victim's main address for driver's license, voter, and school registration, as well as for most court and government documents. Businesses such as banks, credit unions, credit card companies, and utility companies are not legally required to accept the ACP address.
To be eligible for the program an applicant must:
Additional eligibility criteria may be established by the OAG prior to certifying an applicant for participation in the program.
Please check the Crime Victim Services Division page of the OAG's Web site in the coming months for more information and details.
Texas teenagers are experiencing dating violence at alarming rates, according to the Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV). In March 2006, with the support of the Office of the Texas Attorney General, TCFV conducted statewide research on the prevalence of dating violence in Texas. The results show that seventy-five percent of young Texans between the ages of 16 and 24 have either experienced dating violence or know someone who has.
Dating violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors that one person uses to control another in a relationship. Like domestic violence, it can include psychological or emotional violence, such as controlling behaviors, insults or jealousy, physical violence, such as hitting or punching, and sexual violence, such as nonconsensual sexual activity and rape. Some early warning signs of dating violence include any screening of calls or emails, unpredictable mood swings, excessive calling or text messaging, and isolation from friends and/or family.
For more information on dating violence, visit KnowtheRedFlags.com, which educates teenagers and young adults on the signs of dating violence. Also, adults and teens can get advice and support from the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, a 24-hour national web-based and telephone helpline created to help teens (ages 13-18) experiencing dating abuse. The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline can be reached online at loveisrespect.org, toll free 1-866-331-9474 or TTY 1-866-331-8453.
TCFV Prevention Manager Andrea Girón provided this article with the help of Sean Tate and the TCFV team.
SafePlace's Expect Respect Program engages all members of the school community in preventing dating violence and promoting healthy relationships. We offer a menu of services to participating schools including 1) support groups for youth at risk for dating violence due to previous violence or abuse, 2) youth leadership training, and 3) a school-wide prevention campaign including staff and parent training and classroom lessons. We call this an ecological approach because it seeks to change not only individual attitudes and behaviors but also the environment in which youth live, learn and have relationships.
When I began my position at SafePlace in 1989 the term "teen dating violence" was new, but the problem was as real and as serious as it is today. My early experiences included visiting a 16 year old girl in the hospital who had a bullet lodged in her neck, doing a safety plan with a 6th grader who had a scar from the top of her head to the bottom of her spine and meeting with the parents of a girl who was being stalked by an ex-boyfriend. Each of these girls was living with the pain and fear that we now understand to be a familiar aspect of teen dating violence. According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, nearly 1 in 5 high school girls experiences physical or sexual abuse from a dating partner (JAMA, 2001).
In collaboration with a local high school, two SafePlace counselors began offering a support group on campus for girls in abusive relationships. Soon there were many referrals and requests for groups from additional schools. The Travis County Crime Victims' Compensation Fund provided the first grant to expand support groups to five schools. In addition we partnered with the Austin Travis County Health Department to develop a curriculum and trained volunteers to provide classroom presentations to thousands of students. When a student asked for help or an incident occurred on campus, we were able to follow up with counseling and support groups.
Seventeen years later, we continue to provide school-based counseling and support groups in 18 schools serving approximately 500 students per year. Participants include youth who have experienced domestic violence or sexual abuse or who have already been involved in abusive dating relationships. Boys and girls meet in separate groups with a same-sex facilitator. The facilitator uses the program's 24-session Expect Respect support group curriculum to lead group sessions. Students in groups learn about healthy relationships by practicing new skills in an emotionally safe and supportive group environment. This intervention addresses their unique needs and aims to reduce their risk of becoming victims and perpetrators in future dating relationships.
In recent years we developed SafeTeens, an 8-session leadership training course designed to mobilize youth as role models and activists on their campus. The SafeTeens curriculum addresses dating violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, bullying, and how to become leaders in prevention. SafeTeens is offered through health, leadership, drama, or PAL classes and in community settings and includes a service learning component. Youth receive community service hours for creating an awareness campaign or other project on their campus to promote healthy relationships. A similar training called Heroes is offered in elementary schools. Youth are in a unique position to influence the social norms on campus by creating meaningful and culturally relevant messages to educate their peers. Their projects have included posters, public service announcements and presentations to youth and adults.
In 2003 Expect Respect was selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of four programs nationally to receive evaluation assistance. The goal of this project, called an empowerment evaluation, was to identify effective sexual violence prevention strategies and to build capacity in community agencies. As a result we are closer to understanding what works and how to measure it. Our findings indicate that support groups are an effective means to teach relationship skills and to change attitudes and behaviors among at-risk students. We also learned that an ecological approach is necessary to impact changes at multiple levels, including how students treat one another on campus, how adults respond to incidents and model appropriate behavior, and how parents talk with their children about dating relationships.
We recently began providing training for teachers, seminars for parents, and teacher-led classroom lessons using Choose Respect, an initiative developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Choose Respect contains educational videos (student and parent versions), posters, public service announcements and other materials targeting youth and the adults in their lives with messages about healthy dating relationships. The Choose Respect materials are attractive, research-based and available for downloading free of charge at www.chooserespect.org.
In 2007 Governor Perry signed into law HB 121 requiring all Texas school districts to address teen dating violence. Texas is a leader, joining only several other states in the nation in this important step. I encourage advocates and other concerned people to take this opportunity to reach out to local school districts, collaborating with them to establish policies, staff training, opportunities for parent involvement, curricula and, perhaps most urgently needed, access to support services for youth already in abusive relationships. Please contact me at email@example.com if I can be of any assistance and check our website www.austin-safeplace.org for information about our new program manual, Expect Respect: A School-based Program for Preventing Teen Dating Violence and Promoting Safe and Healthy Relationships, coming soon.
According to a statewide survey, 75 percent of 16 to 24 year-old Texans have either personally experienced dating violence or know someone who has (1) . This statistic highlights the importance of House Bill 121, which mandates that all school districts in Texas adopt and implement a dating violence policy. Effective immediately, the new policies must include (1) a definition of dating violence, (2) sections on safety planning, (3) enforcement of protective orders, (4) school-based alternatives to protective orders, (5) training for teachers and administrators, (6) counseling for affected students, and (7) awareness education for students and parents/guardians. View text of the bill.
What does this mean for schools, and how can you as a Victim Services Advocate get involved? The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) has added appropriate provisions into their model Policy Manual Update 81. Once adopted, this will give school districts a bare bones policy, but it will need to be supplemented with local regulations and programs. To help fulfill this need, the Texas Dating Violence Prevention Team, a coalition of various non-profits and government agencies, is encouraging schools to contact their local domestic violence shelter or rape crisis center to see if they already have a dating violence program that can be adopted by the schools. The Team has also compiled a manual entitled "How To Create a Teen Dating Violence Prevention Program," culled from model programs in Boston, Rhode Island, New York, California, and Austin. The document is available on the www.women-law.org website.
So what can you do as a Victim Services Advocate? TASB says that they "know districts are looking for guidance on this issue." Your expertise could mean all the difference. Please reach out to your local schools. Whether or not you are part of an existing dating violence program, you can use the above document to aide school districts and community groups in the development of a comprehensive dating violence program. Another way you can help is by educating teens on this issue. As we gear up for the 3rd National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week in February, the Texas Dating Violence Prevention Team has once again created a toolkit containing posters, warning signs, fact sheets, suggestions for classroom activities, videos, brochures and wallet cards for use in schools and communities to help them observe the Week. (See past materials). Toolkits will be available to schools, shelters, and individuals who want to educate teens and get them excited about this issue. This fall, we are offering free trainings throughout the state on how to use the toolkits. More information will be posted on the above link as we have it.
If you have questions about the Texas Team or their work, please contact Bronwyn Blake at the Texas Advocacy Project, firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. "Know the Red Flags" a study by the Texas Council on Family Violence, 2006. Funded by the Office of the Attorney General and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
Young women ages 16 to 24 are most likely to be victims of dating violence (US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics). Unfortunately, many of the tools we have to help victims are targeted for adults. To be better prepared to aide young victims, it is important to be sensitive to their unique perspective and to be familiar with the tools available to them.
For more information about teen dating violence and the law, please contact Bronwyn Blake of the Teen Justice Initiative at Texas Advocacy Project at email@example.com.
The Travis County Sheriff's Office (TCSO) launched its campaign to bring awareness of teen dating violence in June 2006. The TCSO recognized that teen victims of dating violence were on the increase and in some cases became victims of murder. So the question was posed, "How do we educate teens, parents, school officials, and law enforcement on the topic with limited staff and budget?" It is a question that most agencies face every day.
First and foremost we recognized that the campaign needed committed community partners to join in providing and donating services. With that in mind, TCSO began meeting with community members and sharing our vision. Our campaign includes developing visual materials, (print and video), conducting educational workshops, and creating educational and creative opportunities for teens, including outreach events.
Historically, domestic violence awareness campaigns are launched in October during Domestic Violence Awareness month. However, TCSO chose to launch its campaign during the summer when young people are out of school and there is idle time.
We knew that we would need to develop a print campaign to attract attention. Therefore, we turned to the Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing agency. This agency has a proven history of developing award-winning campaigns for community outreach initiatives. Not only did the Matthews agency agree to assist us at no cost, but they also did so with a three-week deadline, which included designing bus banners, a vehicle wrap, and posters. The purple 60's flower theme "Violence is not a sign of affection" has become known throughout Travis and surrounding counties.
Austin Graphics graciously donated the material and labor to wrap one of our TCSO units, and Capital Metro provided hefty discounts for banner placements on two buses for a six-month period. Over two-weekends, during the summer including "tax-free weekend," the wrapped vehicle was placed inside malls.
Joining us at the events were the TCSO Explorers Post 1099 and staff from the Travis County Attorney's Underage Drinking Prevention program. Over a total of six staggered days we shared a variety of educational materials with the public relating to teen dating violence, date rape drugs, underage drinking warning signs, protective orders for teens, and Austin-SafePlace.We also partnered with Austin-SafePlace and Texas Advocacy Project to conduct three free educational workshops over the coming
year for school staff, advocacy agencies, and law enforcement. Our objective in presenting these workshops was to expand communication between various professionals, creating a better understanding of teen dating violence, as well as expanding the knowledge of how each profession procedurally responds to the violence. We utilized the proven initiative, "Choose Respect" developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC's initiative sought to reduce youth dating violence by encouraging healthy relationships and increasing awareness of the warning signs of dating violence. Moreover, CDC provided the teacher manual, educational videos, and various print materials at no cost.
Including the Texas Advocacy Project into the training was very beneficial. Texas Advocacy Project currently has a staff attorney to provide teens and adults with information on the legal aspects of protective orders for teens. They also provide a service to teens seeking protective orders. Additionally, Carolyn Mosley, whose daughter Otralla Mosley was a murder victim as a result of teen dating violence, joined our initiative with the hopes of making a difference in the lives of other teens.
TCSO also utilized existing teen dating violence awareness public service announcements (PSAs). A simple search of the Internet identified several nationally recognized PSAs that were created by Eagle High School teens in Eagle, Idaho. The film instructor at Eagle High School was more than happy to allow TCSO to personalize the videos by adding local talent and graphics to the existing videos. These PSAs were aired on Austin television throughout the summer, as well as being aired in local theaters at a lower, non-profit advertising rate.
In October of 2006, TCSO expanded teen involvement. We partnered with the Austin Film Festival, Sweet-Leaf Tea, Freebirds World Burrito, and teen band Sliders Fault to sponsor, at no cost, a contest encouraging teens to create a PSA on the topic of teen dating violence. We announced the PSA contest by hosting a Sliders Fault concert at the donated venue at Barton Creek Square mall. Also joining the event were cast members Jesse Plemons and Aimee Teegarden who appear in the television show "Friday Night Lights."
Following the concert at the mall TCSO hosted lunchtime concerts over a two-day period at two area high schools, sharing information about teen dating violence and about the PSA contest. TCSO, Texas Advocacy Project, and the Austin Film Festival made several presentations over a two-month period to educate teens on the PSA topic and to show them the nuts and bolts of making a PSA film. The winning PSAs were announced the first week in February, 2007, during Teen Dating Violence Awareness week. Three PSAs were selected from nearly 50 entries; all three selections were by student teams from Stephen F. Austin High School.
As Dr. Illeana Arias, Director of CDC's National Center for Injury and Violence Prevention, stated, "Adolescents need encouragement, examples, and guidance from parents, schools, and communities about how to relate to other people. . ." TCSO encourages other agencies to band together to bring awareness to teen dating violence.
For more information please contact: Kelly Page firstname.lastname@example.org
I got my first real boyfriend when I was in the seventh grade. He was everything I had wanted in a first boyfriend. He told me how beautiful I was and how much he loved me. He was great.
Then things slowly started to change. Instead of him telling me he loved me, he would say no one else could ever love me. He would also tell me that we would be together forever. I ignored these comments the first few times. Being only thirteen, and he being my first boyfriend and I his first girlfriend, I thought this was normal. I knew we would not be together forever. Although after a while I did start to believe that no one else could ever love me.
When the physical and sexual abuse started I was at a point where I believed I was in too deep. I felt we had built a relationship I could not just walk away from. Even though the relationship was abusive most of the time, there were the times when he was the sweetest, most loving guy. I lived for those moments.
I finally got out of the relationship when my boyfriend wanted to go on a "break." I was so relieved. After a couple of weeks on the break he came back to me and said, "O.K., I'm ready to get back together."
I gathered my courage and told him "no."
This was not what he was expecting, and he became emotionally upset. We were at school at the time and we were both called into the counselor's office. I simply explained to the counselor that we had been on a break and that I no longer wanted to be with him. Even when the counselor asked with my boyfriend out of the room, whether he was abusive, I told her "no." I did not want him to get into trouble.
Even though I did not want to be with him, I still cared about him. We made an agreement at that time that we would not talk or see each other. No phone calls, no talking at school, and no talking on the Internet. My now ex-boyfriend broke that agreement every chance he got. After a few more visits with the counselor and some talks with our teachers and parents, he finally backed off and left me alone.
For about a year after we had broken up, I mentioned the abuse to very few people, just to my best friend and my new boyfriend. My new boyfriend really was great. He treated me with nothing but respect. Even so I was still afraid to let him get close. The haunting of my previous relationship was affecting my new one. I was now in high school and decided to go talk with my new counselor. She told me about the Expect Respect group held weekly at my school by SafePlace, our local shelter here in Austin.
I started going to the meetings weekly and quickly became involved. I learned in the meetings that none of the abuse was my fault, and I was finally able to move forward in my new relationship. After being in the group for almost a year, my counselor from Expect Respect told me about a group starting up at SafePlace called POWER (Powerful, Outrageous Women Expecting Respect)Girls, and she thought I would be great at it. I quickly joined the group and became a leader. In this group I am able to share my experience with others, hoping to spare another from what I had to go through.
I will start my freshman year of college, where I hope to further my involvement in dating violence awareness and prevention. Although I have healed from my experience, I will never forget. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, don't be afraid to reach out. Call the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 866-331-8453 or visit their website at http://loveisrespect.org/.
For more information about the POWERGirls go to www.austinpowergirls.com.
My daughter, Jennifer Ann Crecente, died 18 months ago. She was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. She was shot in the back of the head, execution-style, with a sawed-off shotgun loaded with birdshot. She was left in a wooded area for 24 hours before she was found.
As cliché as it sounds, my heart felt heavy, my stomach queasy that whole day. Somehow I knew she was dead. I filed a missing person's report early, only to be told that I was overreacting." My daughter must have "gone off with her boyfriend on a drug binge." That was so far from the truth. But the officer didn't know, nor did he believe me. She had not been taking drugs, which was confirmed by the toxicology report after her death. Though I must admit that I sometimes wish that had been the case. It would be terrible, but I would still have a chance to help her, or at the very least, she would not have been as acutely aware of what was about to happen.
If there were anything that I could say to you, something to leave with you, I'd want you to remember that if you are skeptical, like the police officer that handled my missing person's case, it is probably for a darn good reason.
I worked on a special project at the OAG's Child Support Division (as a temp) for six months. It is sometimes hard to believe people because you do hear so many untruths. The percentage of deception is frustrating. But please remember that if there is a percentage of deception, there is a percentage of truth. Take every case as genuine. Investigate every case thoroughly. Take every person as an individual.
My daughter was the love of my life. She was the most incredible, intelligent, creative, gorgeous person I've ever met. I'd want to meet her even if she wasn't my child. She was going to be an exceptionally impactful person in life.
Yet she is strong in death. She speaks through us, through Jennifer's Hope (www.jennfershope.org), to educate others. We perform outreach to teens and training for professionals that honors the spirit of my child. We are also incredibly proud to contribute financially to the Teen Dating Violence Awareness Toolkits that will be distributed to 200 schools again this year.
But we need to do more. We need to reach every school, every child. Even if we don't reach each one now, we need to try. To reach for perfection when perfection isn't possible is exhausting. But we can only come close to our goals if we do our jobs as if we believe it is possible.
How hard will that be, facing the hours and cases for which you are responsible? Incredibly hard, right? I know. But please know that though it was too late for the police officer to help Jennifer, it could have saved her life if it had been a short 24 hours sooner.
Don't accept indifference or ambivalence. Please take every "Jennifer Ann' as if it may be the most important and true case you have ever had. Please.
Written by a mom without a child, Elizabeth Crecente
We can all remember…the excitement of that first crush, having someone really like you, wondering what it was like to be 'in love,' and that time when hormones meet adrenalin … and it can be scary! In today's environment, the innocent dating rituals of times past are often foregone for just 'hanging out,' 'hooking up' or having a good time. If it involves the Internet (unsupervised), drugs or alcohol, the risk increases and our teens are more vulnerable.
Educating ourselves and then potential victims and their parents about the 'red flags' of teen dating abuse may decrease the risk to those we want to protect. Some of the more common "Signs of a Batterer" include:
~~ whoever said 'words don't hurt,' never got hit with a dictionary ~~
By keeping our eyes open and our minds informed, we can be of great assistance in recognizing serious problem perhaps before they become crimes. We can perhaps prevent one more victim from needing our services. Our ultimate goal, in essence, is to put ourselves 'out of business.'
Send your comments and stress relief tips to us at email@example.com. This article is submitted by Dr. Jennie Barr, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for the Crime Victim Services Division.
A summary of legislation that impacts the Crime Victim Services Division:
SB 157 – Relating to the definition of criminally injurious conduct for purposes of the Crime Victims' Compensation Act.
Effective Date: September 1, 2007
HB 1042 – Relating to excepting certain crime victim information from required disclosure under the Public Information law.
Effective Date: September 1, 2007
SB 1580 - Relating to the provision of pay telephone service to inmates confined in facilities operated by TDCJ.
Effective Date: May 15, 2007
SB 74 – Relating to the confidentiality of certain information regarding victims of family violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including the creation of an Address Confidentiality Program (ACP).
HB 1751 – Relating to the imposition and use of a fee on certain sexually oriented businesses (SOBs) and certain programs for the prevention of sexual assault.
The Teen Victim Initiative is excited to announce the launch of our powerful new Web training series on helping teen victims of crime. Over the next several months, national and local experts will present on ten topics free of charge to help victim assistance providers, law enforcement personnel, and other allied professionals provide informed, culturally competent, and developmentally appropriate responses to teen victims and their families. The National Center for Victims of Crime is providing these trainings with the support of a grant awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
Registration is free, but spots are limited. To register or to access training materials, visit ncvc.webex.com. For assistance, please contact Mira Krivoshey at 202-467-8747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming training topics include:
In conjunction with National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Office on Violence Against Women is launching their new Web resource: www.enditnow.gov. This Web site contains resources for both victims and those seeking to help them. Content features assistance for victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Stalking, and Teen Dating Violence. Information, including a public service announcement, is available in both English and Spanish.
Recognizing that students are critical to school safety, the OAG has developed and launched the Texas Teen Page. This interactive and comprehensive online Web community encourages Texas teens to make good choices, including coming forward to report suspicious behavior on campus. The Texas Teen Page also offers students helpful information, including how to make wise financial decisions, recognize summer job scams and spot fraudulent credit card or scholarship offers. The Texas Teen Page can be accessed by clicking on the "TXT" icon on the OAG's main Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.
The Bexar County Family Justice Center opened its doors on August 1, 2005. This exciting and challenging journey began in January, 2004, following the announcement of available federal funding from the Department of Justice-Office on Violence Against Women. The $20 million Presidential Initiative was patterned after an innovative approach to serving victims of domestic violence - the San Diego Family Justice Center.
In 1986, Casey Guinn, City Attorney for San Diego, California evaluated the formula for Children's Advocacy Centers and the feasibility for a "one stop shop" for victims of domestic violence. In April, 2002, the San Diego Family Justice Center opened with more than 20 on-site partners offering counseling, food, housing, transportation, military advocates, District Attorney Victim/Witness Advocates and Police Investigators, chaplain, a forensic medical unit, and 55 volunteers, as well as an additional 15 off-site agencies.
Guinn took his vision to Washington, D.C., and in October, 2003, President George W. Bush announced his plans for a pilot program that would provide $20 million across the country for the planning and development of comprehensive domestic violence victim service and support centers.
Susan D. Reed, Bexar County Criminal District Attorney, brought together a powerful and successful collaboration. Upon announcement of the eligible funds, collaborative efforts began between the District Attorney's Office, Bexar County Housing & Human Services, San Antonio Police Department, University Health Systems and the P.E.A.C.E. Initiative. Throughout the planning process, excitement grew and new agencies were added daily to the efforts. In January, 2004, several members of the Bexar County District Attorney's Office traveled to San Diego to attend a special conference designed for this grant solicitation and also toured the well-known San Diego Family Justice Center. Bexar County filed its completed grant application on February 5, 2004.
April, 2004, brought the Department of Justice and the Office of Violence Against Women to Bexar County as San Antonio was chosen as one of twenty-four cities selected for a site visit. On Wednesday, July 21, 2004, Bexar County was notified that its proposal had been selected. Bexar County, the only Texas site chosen, was awarded $1,367,000. In total, fifteen cities were chosen to build centers throughout the nation. San Antonio was attractive to the DOJ-OVW because of the large military component and cultural diversity within our community. Both of these traits make San Antonio a unique and exciting city.
The planning of the Bexar County Family Justice Center involved over thirty public and non-profit agencies. The Family Justice Center is housed with the old Brady Green County Hospital, now known as The University Health Systems-Downtown Clinic facility. The Family Justice Center occupies more than 12,000 square feet, adapted for the provision of services. Efficiency and co-location are the bricks and mortar that build meaningful delivery of service.
The efforts of those involved have paid off. Victims of domestic violence have access to a variety of services under one roof at the Family Justice Center. Each client has the ability to see any and all service providers at no charge. The goal of the Family Justice Center is to take a victim from survivor to thriver. Through the consolidation of services offered at the Family Justice Center this dream is now a reality!