As Texans, we grew up admiring Dallas Cowboys greats Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, Drew Pearson and many others playing for America’s Team.
They stole our hearts and started our long journey as lifelong, loyal fans. We celebrated each victory as our own and felt real pain at every loss.
Now, as we serve the Texas Council on Family Violence as CEO and board chair, the social and philosophical underpinnings of our professional and personal lives collide in a way we never anticipated.
While domestic violence certainly is not exclusive to high-profile athletes, we do believe sports give us an opportunity to discuss the deadly results domestic violence perpetrates.
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NFL players Greg Hardy and Ray Rice have pushed this issue to the forefront, making domestic violence a lead story in all forms of media and the topic of conversation in homes, workplaces, coffee shops and places of worship.
Their actions stripped the veil of secrecy from domestic violence, revealing it as the scourge of society it truly is.
In response, influential ESPN, Fox and other sports commentators and the Star-Telegram’s Mac Engel brought domestic violence out of the shadows, identifying it as a horrific crime and openly holding perpetrators accountable.
This represents a major step forward: men holding men accountable for their actions.
It’s a step the Texas Council on Family Violence and our member organizations have worked diligently to achieve for 40 years, and it gives us an opportunity to inform Texans that domestic violence is a deadly problem in our state.
In 2014, more than 84,000 Texas women and children sought shelter, counseling or housing services because their homes were unsafe and filled with fear.
Thirty-nine percent of requests for services went unmet for lack of resources.
And most profoundly, 132 Texas women ranging in age from 16 to 90 were killed by male intimate partners.
We ask ourselves key questions about these murders in order to gain a deeper understanding.
What weapons were used? Were there prior acts of violence? When were the first indicators of lethal danger?
We know the presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500 percent. A firearm was used in more than two-thirds of the 132 fatalities last year.
We also know strangulation is the most terrorizing and lethal form of violence used by men against a female intimate partner.
Conclusion: We now know Hardy’s former girlfriend Nicole Holder experienced the two most deadly threats possible. Her absence from the criminal justice process now is no surprise — it’s tied to fear.
So is that silver-and-blue star tarnished? Do we believe the silver and blue commands respect, because respect is clearly a team value?
The answers are obvious.
The Dallas Cowboys is a business that depends on winning. It’s a major economic driver across Texas and in other markets where the team plays.
In fact, the Cowboys are an international commodity.
As businesswomen, we accept those realities. However, our loyalty is crumbling and we feel no pain at their on-field losses.
Our pain is reserved for women like Nicole Holder. We feel pain for families and for 8-year-old boys like Bo who quietly wish for “a place to live where my father can’t find us.”
The blue and silver gleams no longer.
The Texas Council on Family Violence is a business, too. Our business is to end domestic violence, and our game plan is to win.
Winning means Texas women are not murdered, children don’t witness unforgettable violence and no one has to hide or fear going home.
We invite the Dallas Cowboys to help us create more victories in a business that’s more important than even football.
Gloria Terry is CEO of the Texas Council on Family Violence. Mary Lee Hafley is board chairman for the Texas Council on Family Violence and retired CEO of SafeHaven of Tarrant County.