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Dallas Mayor Calls On Men To Demand End To Domestic Violence

BJ Austin, KERA

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings on Tuesday will unveil plans for a rally against domestic violence that he hopes will draw thousands of men to downtown Dallas.  The mayor wants to combat violence in the home with a loud chorus of voices demanding changes in actions and attitudes.

Last year in Dallas domestic violence related murders more than doubled: from 10 to 26.

“You have to take notice that there’s something happening with domestic violence murders in Dallas,” Police Chief David Brown said, announcing the 2012 crime stats. 

Jan Langbein, longtime director of Genesis Women’s Shelter says in the past few years she’s seen an escalated level of violence in cases coming through the doors.

“When I first started in this work, we were shocked by a black eye or a split lip," Langbein said. "Now, if you look at the homicides that we’ve seen – you know in front of the 16 year old at the birthday party; the man who takes a five year old next door and goes home and kills his wife. But they don’t just kill them. They shoot them five times. Our society has … well I don’t know.”

Mayor Mike Rawlings believes he knows where to start to find some answers and solutions.  At a City Hall news conference after the Connecticut school shootings, Mayor Mike Rawlings said he wanted to tackle a culture of violence on two fronts: mental health and domestic violence. On that issue, he spoke particularly to men.

“This violence is our fault. It’s not the women’s fault. We have been the violent gender over the centuries and we must own up to it," Rawlings challenged. "Tradition has enabled the action we see around us. And we’ve created those traditions.”

Langbein says it’s the Mayor’s attack on attitudes that impresses her.

“He is breaking, ah jumping over this wall that we have just fought with of that’s not my business, it’s a private matter, I don’t have anything to do with that because I don’t abuse. So, he is actually coming up with this call to action for men to unite and say it ends here. It ends here," Langbein said.

Dallas Cowboys legends Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith are among those who will join the mayor and city council members to announce the downtown rally planned for next month

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.