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City councilwoman pushes for huge financial commitment to fight against domestic violence

Felix Gonzalez, graduate of a Batterer's Intervention program. (SBG photo)
Felix Gonzalez, graduate of a Batterer's Intervention program. (SBG photo)
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SAN ANTONIO - A total of 28 San Antonio women were killed in domestic violence situations last year, according to Marta Prada Palaez, president of the Battered Women and Children's Shelter and emcee of the 18th annual "Honoring Mothers" Luncheon Friday at the Grand Hyatt,

Now, a comprehensive community-wide effort is being discussed to attack the problem,

"One in three women in San Antonio have a domestic violence story to tell. That's obscene. It's unacceptable. It's not the city we deserve," said City Councilman Manny Palaez.

His colleague, Shirley Gonzales, is preparing to ask City Council for a massive financial outlay to add resources to help address the many issues related to domestic abuse.

"We know that currently $21 million goes to the delegate agencies," she said during a press conference following the luncheon. "I would like to see that doubled."

After Marta Palaez solemnly read the names of each of the 28 local women who died last year, the lunch program featured a short video about domestic abuser Felix Gonzalez.

"We have to man up now," he told the 600 people in attendance who later applauded his personal transformation.

Gonzalez says he changed his life after an assault citation five years ago.

"I'm willing to be accountable for everything I have done in the past and what's intended for me in the future," he said.

Gonzalez was sentenced to a 20-week batterer's invention program in 2014. What he learned from those sessions, along with a program he completed at Bandera Road City Church, helped him understand how he needed to change.

"Change is possible," he said. "You have to be tired of being tired.

"As men, we have this type of shield, a wall that we put up for us to feel superior. There's so much guilt, shame and anger behind all of that, that nobody knows how to deal with."

To help men like Gonzalez become part of the solution rather than the problem, the area-wide program to address domestic and intimate partner violence is being planned.

The city has comprehensive plans for public art, tourism, animal care services, managing the River Walk and the Tricentennial," Manny Palaez said, "but we don't have a comprehensive city-wide plan on how to make sure women and children don't die on our watch. Shame on us."

Gonzalez said it is tough to find support.

"There's not that many programs out there for men," he said. "I do think there needs to be more programs out there in our community for men, maybe 1 to 2 hours a week for men to get together and talk."

Everyone agrees that 12,000 domestic violence calls last year in San Antonio is an unacceptable number. So are the 28 deaths.

Violence in the home has led to another frightening statistic: 15 percent of all local children have been exposed to four or more adverse situations.

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"Love conquers all," Gonzalez said. "When you learn how to love correctly, you can find total peace in your life."

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