DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said some of his family members have been victims of domestic violence, which serves as motivation for his recent push to make men more aware of abuse.
Rawlings has made speeches and organized a rally to tell "the men of Dallas" to stop domestic violence against women. He told The Dallas Morning News (http://dallasne.ws/YC9LjH ) in a story published Monday that people close to him have been victims of domestic violence.
"I've had some very, very close family members," as well as friends and co-workers, who have faced domestic violence, Rawlings told the newspaper.
An estimated 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Dallas will hold a rally Saturday for "Men Against Abuse." NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith and Dallas pastor T.D. Jakes are scheduled to appear.
Rawlings' push comes after a series of attacks on women. Last year, a south Dallas woman was found dead in her home two days after she called 911. Police took nearly an hour to get to Deanna Cook's home and left without going inside. Her ex-husband, Delvecchio Patrick, is charged with her murder.
In January, Karen Smith, a woman who tried years earlier to get a restraining order against her husband, was found shot and killed in a parking garage at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Her husband, Ferdinand Glen Smith, is also charged with murder.
Rawlings said he was especially affected by Smith's death, which occurred at the same hospital where his mother was treated for cancer.
"It really rocked my head up, and I started listening," Rawlings told the newspaper.
He recently gave a speech in New York on the issue and recorded a 30-second video speaking out against abuse.
"You can call a guy who abuses women a lot of things. But you can't call him a man," Rawlings says in the video. "A man doesn't hit women, ever. A man doesn't find jokes about hitting women funny, or songs about hitting women acceptable. A man doesn't turn the other way when he knows a woman is the victim of abuse."
Rawlings said he felt a responsibility to speak out, not just as the relative of abuse victims, but the leader of a city where domestic violence incidents have grabbed headlines.
"My job is to try to bring crime down and make this a better place to live," Rawlings said. "When women in our homes are beaten, this is not a good place for them to live."