Longtime San Antonio domestic violence prevention advocate elected to head state coalition

Marta Pelaez is CEO of Family Violence Prevention services, Battered Women’s Shelter

When it comes to domestic violence, Marta Pelaez is already a highly-coveted leader for her knowledge on the subject.

SAN ANTONIO – A longtime domestic violence prevention advocate in San Antonio has now been elevated to run an important state organization.

When it comes to domestic violence, Marta Pelaez is already a highly-coveted leader for her knowledge on the subject.

“For the number of programs that we have created in San Antonio that have been piloted throughout the state that have been used as models throughout the state,” Pelaez said.

Pelaez is CEO of San Antonio’s Family Violence Prevention Services, which offers a long list of counseling, legal, and housing services, including the Battered Women and Children’s Shelter.

She was just announced as the newly elected chair for the Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV), the only nonprofit joining organizations from all over the state. It includes 135 member nonprofit organizations.

“Bringing advocacy, guidance, preparation and representation before state legislators and federal legislators,” Pelaez said.

She explained that a big part of TCFV’s work lies in legislation.

“To advance bills, to propose bills to be written. New bills are prepared by a committee that is very diverse in its composition, from program CEOs, to judges, district attorneys, victims,” she said.

Pelaez currently serves on the TCFV board as the Region 5 area director, but said heading a whole organization of that magnitude is a big honor.

“To be able to share with the community those emerging trends that TCFV is uncovering, when it comes to allocations, federal allocations, I will be able to hear and partake in important ways,” she said.

Pelaez said understanding those statewide trends has been crucial during the pandemic.

TCFV reports 228 Texans were killed by intimate partners in 2020, a 23% increase from the previous year.

Pelaez plans to address the isolation and stress contributing to those numbers, as well as specific issues like guns in the hands of perpetrators.

“The laws that already exist in the books but are not enforced. So many judges do not ask for the guns when they have the perpetrators in front of them,” Pelaez said.

It’s something Bexar County’s Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence is already working on locally.

“Working very diligently to put in place protocols dealing with the collection of those guns,” Pelaez said. “Advancing those conversations at the state level, I think will be of critical importance.”

Another big goal is encouraging the different nonprofits involved in TCFV to learn from each other.

“What community is doing it differently and what their success is with this or that other intervention or prevention approach,” Pelaez said.

The TCFV board chair is elected for two year terms, and Pelaez thrilled to have a hand in that connectivity and learn even more on the subject that she can bring back to San Antonio and Bexar County’s advocacy.

If you or someone you know is involved in an abusive relationship, there are many resources available. We have a long list on the resource section of KSAT’s Domestic Violence page.

If you are in immediate danger call 911.

The Domestic Violence Hotline is also always available. You can call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), text START to 88788, or go on the website to chat with someone, set up a safety plan, or get more information.

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About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.