We Care About Survivors

Capitol Day is a joint venture between the Texas Council on Family Violence, the domestic violence state coalition, and the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, the sexual assault state coalition. Each of these organizations have policy initiatives for the 86th Legislative Session explained below.

 
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FULL FUNDING FOR FAMILY VIOLENCE

In 2017, over 71,000 family violence survivors received services from family violence services, 136 women were killed by a male intimate partner, and 41 % of requests for services went unmet because of the lack of space and resources in shelters. These three facts underscore the prevalence of family violence and the growing demand for family violence services. Support the Health and Human Services Commission core funding request of $59.14 M to ensure Texans have access to shelters and life-saving services.

SAFE HOMES FOR FAMILY VIOLENCE SURVIVORS

Through the lease termination statute (Texas Property Code 92.016), Texas landlords have played a crucial role in ensuring safe housing for tenants and, in doing so, reducing liability for damages to survivors, property, and other tenants. To seek relief, a survivor must show a temporary ex parte order, a court injunction, or a permanent protective order. TCFV seeks to expand the allowable documentation to include emergency orders following an arrest for a family violence offense, certification from a licensed medical or mental health provider, or certification from a family violence program advocate.

PROTECTION OF SURVIVORS THROUGH TCIC ENTRY OF CONDITIONS OF BOND

Texas Crime Information Center provides courts and law enforcement access to domestic violence information, including: existence and terms of protective orders, felony warrants and domestic violence convictions. Unlike protective orders, conditions of bond (COB) do not have a designated and easily searchable field within TCIC. There is a lack of accessible information for law enforcement on conditions of bond, and as a result, survivors, law enforcement and the larger community remain at risk without accountability for offenders. TCFV advocates for entry into TCIC with requirements of specific information fields and notification to survivors of existing conditions.

STRANGULATION RECOGNITION AND SURVIVOR SUPPORT

68% of survivors of intimate partner violence will experience near-fatal strangulation by their partner. These survivors of strangulation have a 750% increase of being murdered. In Texas, strangulation is the third leading cause of homicide for survivors of domestic violence. Early detection and response training for law enforcement is critical to support survivors of strangulation and potentially reduce homicides. Offering law enforcement training tools to note physical, and verbal indicators, will aid survivors in getting needed treatment and supports and bolster prosecution efforts.

eNFORCEMENT OF FAMILY VIOLENCE AND FIREARM LAWS

65% of women killed by current or former male intimate partners in Texas in 2017 were shot to death, exceeding the national average. Texas law prohibits felons, protective order respondents, and offenders convicted of certain family violence misdemeanors from possessing firearms. TCFV advocates for development of procedures and protocols to be implemented by local jurisdictions to enforce Texas firearm laws that protect survivors of family violence.

fund sexual assault programs

Texas’s 88 sexual assault programs (SAPs) are the core service providers for sexual assault survivors in in the state. Survivors served by SAPs have better health outcomes and are more likely to pursue a criminal case. Each year more and more survivors contact SAPs, but funding has remained static, resulting in widespread capacity shortfalls. TAASA supports increased funding to enable SAPs to meet demand in their communities.

improve medical care & due process

Treatment by a specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) improves health outcomes for survivors and ensures competent evidence collection. However, 84% of Texas counties have no working SANE. Geography should not determine quality of care or the likelihood of criminal charges. TAASA supports the use of telehealth technology to connect SANEs with survivors in underserved areas, as well as continued support for training initiatives to certify more SANEs in Texas.

create criminal offense for indecent assault

Under current Texas law, non-penetration sexual assault, or "groping," committed against a person 17 or older is classified as a class C misdemeanor, equivalent to a traffic ticket. It is the lowest-level offense under Texas law, carrying no possibility of jail time, even for repeat offenses or assaults against vulnerable individuals. Texas is one of only 6 states to treat these sexual assaults so leniently. TAASA supports a new criminal offense that reflects the true seriousness of this crime.

eliminate obstacles in protective order laws

Outdated statutory language creates unintended obstacles for survivors who seek protective orders (POs). To ensure these laws function as they were intended, TAASA supports several amendments to the Family Code and Code of Criminal Procedure to clarify who can apply, when a hearing can be held, and whether the order can be criminally enforceable.

ensure every rape kit is counted & tested

Since 2011 the Texas Legislature has repeatedly appropriated funds to analyze sexual assault forensic evidence, to increase capacity at the state crime labs, and to test more than 20,000 untested kits collected before than 2011. However, in order to prevent a new backlog, TAASA supports continued funding by the Legislature to track and test all sexual assault evidence.