Formed in 1978, the Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) was the first statewide organization to explicity address the issue of domestic violence. According to their 1995 by-laws, the group was organized for charitable purposes as a non-profit membership organization for autonomous, community-based battered women's shelters, related organizations, and concerned others. The TCFV's purpose is to assist and empower battered women and their children and to eliminate violence against women, largely by advancing the shelter movement in Texas. According to the TCFV, Texas women's shelters originated in 1875, when Martha McWhirter opened a shelter in Belton. It was over 100 years later, in 1977 that another shelter opened in Austin, emerging out of the growing awareness of women's issues generated by the National Women's Conference held in Houston that year. A shelter in Houston soon followed.
With only six member shelters at the time of formation, the TCFV focused on obtaining state support and funding for programs. By 1994 the organization had expanded and more shelters had been opened, swelling the membership rolls to sixty shelters. In addition, the TCFV has been effective in generating financial support at the state level for shelters. Having allotted $200,000 in 1979, the state granted $9.1 million in 1994 to the shelter program. Lobbying for protective legislation has also been an important part of the TCFV's mission. The organization played a role in passing legislation that grants protective orders for women, allows officers to arrest an assault suspect without a warrant, increases penalties for violent sexual crimes against children, requires training for law enforcement officers in domestic violence issues, and defines and punishes stalking. In addition, the TCFV initiated and helped to develop the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which opened in 1996. With the backing of President Clinton, a national toll-free number was established to assist and counsel victims of domestic violence and to educate the general public. Mindful of reaching out to minority groups, the TCFV has also established an African-American Task Force, a Latina Task Force, and a Lesbian Task Force.