Lifting ‘veil of shame’: State representative tells story of domestic abuse ahead of Thursday conference

Rep. Josey Garcia is set to speak at Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence annual symposium

SAN ANTONIO – The hardest words to say out loud have become the most important for Texas State Rep. Josey Garcia.

“Some of my earliest memories are of my mother being severely beaten. I would take my sister, and we would run out into the middle of the night, hide underneath trailers, hide in a ditch. We would wait for my mother’s voice to call us because that’s when we knew we were safe, and then we would run for our lives,” said Garcia.

She said she spent much of her early life running from abuse.

“I went to 13 different schools before I hit high school,” she said.

Garcia is no longer holding onto these secrets she’s kept for decades.

“I’m 46 years old, and it’s just been over the past few years that I’ve had the courage to lift up the veil of shame,” she said.

Garcia has even shared her story of abuse with other legislators on both sides of the aisle. She said it’s tipped the scale for domestic violence-related bills.

“Quite a few legislators that admitted to me that they would not have voted in support of a particular bill had it not been for my personal testimony,” she said.

Garcia wanted others suffering to know that revealing the truth has been liberating.

“It’s really hard to be that vulnerable and share the ugly. But it’s so rewarding to see a glimmer of hope in somebody else’s eyes,” she said.

That ability to instill hope is why she agreed to be one of the main speakers at this year’s Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence Symposium.

People tune in from all over the country to hear the latest on local domestic violence response and advocacy.

Garcia said a powerful part of that symposium is the ability for anyone watching to get help.

Anyone tuning in on their phone or computer who needs help or resources will have a team available and ready to guide them.

“It’s so beautiful that you tune into this symposium, and you get moved to ask for help. You get the courage to seek help. This is the time,” Garcia said.

Garcia knows how hard it is for victims to admit they’re suffering, but she hopes people will feel safe in the confines of the symposium.

“We’re still worth something, and that’s what’s been very important about my journey of sharing,” Garcia said.

The third annual Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence Symposium is virtual again this year, allowing more people to participate.

It runs this Thursday and Friday, October 5 and 6. It’s free to the public, and you can register on the CCDV website. The website will also list a full schedule of speakers and sessions.

Find resources for victims of domestic violence here

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.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.