AUSTIN, Texas — Domestic violence survivors, advocates and legislators gathered at the Texas State Capitol Thursday morning to make a case for full funding of domestic violence services in this legislative session.
The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) has been collecting signatures as part of its "2023 Purple Postcard Campaign." The TCFV said the campaign engaged thousands of Texans who digitally signed purple postcards urging lawmakers to add more funding for emergency resources.
According to the TCFV, nearly 10% more domestic violence survivors were denied shelter last year because of capacity issues. That's why the council said it is elevating the need to keep shelters and services open so they can support more survivors.
Advocates are asking lawmakers to allocate around $6.3 million to confront the capacity crisis and allow those escaping family violence a safe place to stay. The funding would also assist in violence prevention programs.
Among those who participated in Thursday's event were Gloria Aguilera Terry, CEO of the TCFV; State Rep. Toni Rose (D-Dallas); Sonia Corrales, deputy CEO of the Houston Area Women’s Center; and Bella J. Rockman, a survivor of domestic violence.
At the event, State Rep. Josey Garcia (D-San Antonio) shared that she is a survivor of domestic violence herself.
"I'm a testament of what a little bit of investment in human life can do," Garcia said.
Garcia also shared a reminder to other survivors.
"I know many times it feels like you're not heard. But we're here to show you that you're not alone anymore. That some of us understand a little bit better than we care to admit. But we're here for you," Garcia said.
There are several bills filed this session that would support survivors of domestic violence. Those bills include:
- Senate Bill 409 and House Bill 1739, which state that a victim, guardian of a victim, or close relative of a deceased victim may assert and enforce their rights orally or in writing. Additionally, they can request to be kept informed about evidence and court proceedings
- House Bill 1796, which would provide shelter for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and their dependents
- Senate Bill 806, which would require peace officers to connect victims of sexual assault, human trafficking and related sex offenses with services and to inform them of their legal rights at their earliest interaction
- Senate Bill 819, which would allow a victim, guardian of a victim or close relative of a deceased victim to be represented by legal counsel in the criminal justice process to advocate for them, advise them about legal rights and empower them to engage and participate in the process