A Mother’s Day Wish by Texas First Lady Anita Perry

Texas First Lady Anita Perry

I hope every day, but especially this Mother’s Day Weekend, Texans take a moment to thank the women who shaped their lives, whether they are mothers, grandmothers, aunts or friends that helped to guide them as they grew.

This weekend flowers, greeting cards and brunches will be given in special recognition of moms. As we take part in this tradition, I’d like to ask Texans to take a moment and also remember the moms for whom this day might not be quite as special.

For many mothers in our state, the celebration of this day can be a painful reminder that their lives and possibly the lives of their children are clouded by domestic violence. Sadly, statewide research shows that 74 percent of Texans have been abused, or know of someone who has suffered abuse. More chilling is the fact that two Texas women every week are killed through acts of domestic violence. Many more are physically or emotionally abused.

Focus group after focus group shows that the first person survivors talk to about an abusive relationship is a family member or friend. However, many Texans, about 35 percent, who learn of a friend or family member’s violent circumstances, do nothing, as they don’t realize how they can help or don’t want to get involved. I have spoken to many sisters, mothers and daughters who said they just didn’t recognize the signs of a loved one’s abuse or paid too little attention until it was too late.

When a friend, family member or a co-worker we know needs outpatient surgery, we offer to drive them home from the hospital. When a family suffers a loss or illness, we bring food to their home. But all too often, when a friend or co-worker shows up with a bruise or acts unexplainably withdrawn, we don’t want to interfere. Domestic violence is not just a private family matter. It is a crime with serious, dangerous repercussions for men, women, children and the entire community.

That’s why our state will soon launch a second phase of an awareness campaign to change the situation – this time focusing on friends, family and co-workers who are in a position to assist victims of domestic violence.

In 2002, with the aid of a $2 million grant from the Office of the Attorney General, the Texas Council on Family Violence launched an unprecedented 16-month, bilingual public awareness campaign to give women trapped in violent relationships, many of whom are mothers, the information they need to seek and obtain help.

“Break the Silence, Make the Call” resulted in a 69 percent increase in English-language calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and a staggering 93 percent increase in Spanish-language calls in its inaugural month. For many women, placing that first call to the National Domestic Violence Hotline was an incredibly important first step in seeking and receiving life-changing assistance for themselves and their family.

In the coming weeks, you’ll see and hear new public service announcements, imploring all Texans to get involved by breaking their silence, making the call to 1-800-799-SAFE or TTY 1-800-787-3224, when a loved one or friend is in need. This Mother’s Day, take time to honor mothers – and honor all Texas women by raising our consciousness to help all mothers celebrate this day as they should: in a home filled not by fear, but love.

A nurse with 17 years in the health care profession, Perry continues to focus on women’s and children’s health issues as Texas’ First Lady.