El Paso Hosts National Conference Providing Innovative Solutions Helping Victims of Domestic Violence for Job Readiness and Opportunities

Texas Council on Family Violence Holds Economic Justice Summit and Highlights La Mujur Obrera in El Paso and Thistle Farms in Tennessee


El Paso, Texas — The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) today convened a National Economic Justice Summit to showcase economic initiatives from across Texas and the country that help victims of domestic violence create long-term solutions to achieve economic freedom and succeed beyond staying in the shelter.

The question many women and some men struggle with is whether they can afford to flee a violent relationship. Statistics show that victims of domestic violence account for a significant proportion of those in emergency shelter in Texas and for a sizeable number of the “hidden homeless.”

“A woman should not have to choose between staying in a violent relationship or homelessness,” said Gloria A. Terry, TCFV’s president. “That is why I am proud to return home to El Paso to lead a discussion with experts from across the nation in the city that has been a national leader in helping victims achieve long term economic stability.”

Two innovative programs, La Mujur Obrera in El Paso and Thistle Farms in Tennessee are providing innovative way to help women succeed in job readiness programs. La Mujur Obrera helps women on both sides of the border by allowing them to sell artisans. Since 1981, La Mujer Obrera has been dedicated to upholding the most basic human rights. A few of their innovative programs include:

  • Employment with dignity and justice
  • Comprehensive education, for all ages and community members
  • Full health and nutrition, including open access to comprehensive health care
  • Safe, secure and affordable housing
  • Right to live in peace with justice and dignity
  • Right to freely and completely participate in the political governing system

Founded in 1997 by Reverend Becca Stevens, Founder of Magdalene, Inc. & Thistle Farms Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest on Vanderbilt’s campus, Magdalene is a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. Thistle Farms is our social enterprise.

A few innovative programs of the Magdalene: 

* For two years, we offer housing, food, medical and dental needs, therapy, education and job training without charging the residents or receiving government funding. 

* Our six homes function without 24-hour live-in staff, relying on residents to create a supportive community, maintain recovery, and share household tasks. 

* Women come to Magdalene from prison, the streets and from across the Southeast and the country.

* The women of Magdalene/Thistle Farms range in age from 20-50, and many have been sexually abused between the ages of 7-11, began using alcohol or drugs by 13, have been arrested on average a hundred times, or have spent about 12 years on the street prostituting.

* 72% percent of the women who join Magdalene are clean and sober 2 1/2 years after beginning the program.

El Paso is also a leader in work-force development programs for domestic violence survivors. El Paso is one of the first cities in the nation where the local workforce development board-Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande and the local shelter-Center Against Family Violence join forces to help women get started on the job search while in emergency shelter.

“Our goal is to help victims become self sufficient,” said Lorenzo Reyes, Jr., CEO of the Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande. “ Providing victims assistance in an environment they are more comfortable in during a tough time is the key component in this particular partnership. Because we are located inside the Center Against Family Violence we are able to help victims with job readiness skills and support services that can lead to employment and financial independence, in a more private one-on-one setting he added.

“The Center Against Family Violence appreciates the opportunity to team with the Texas Council on Family Violence and community partners to bring this training to EL Paso,” said Stephanie Karr, President of the Center Against Family Violence. “In these tough economic times it is even more critical that our survivors of family violence achieve economic self sufficiency. Victims of domestic violence should not have to choose between living with an abuser and being destitute. We thank the Allstate Foundation and Workforce Solutions for their leadership.”


Texas Council on Family Violence is a statewide organization representing a network of domestic violence programs that provide direct services to victims and their families, and serves as the voice of victims at the state level while working with local communities to create strategies to prevent family violence. Visit us online at http://www.tcfv.org/.