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Astros commit to anti-domestic violence cause

MLB.com @alysonfooter

HOUSTON -- The Astros have made a long-term commitment to help combat domestic violence, announcing a partnership on Monday with more than a dozen local and state agencies that advocate for the cause.

At a morning press conference at Minute Maid Park, the Astros Foundation revealed a partnership with the Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) and introduced several initiatives to raise awareness and educate the Houston community to prevent family violence.

HOUSTON -- The Astros have made a long-term commitment to help combat domestic violence, announcing a partnership on Monday with more than a dozen local and state agencies that advocate for the cause.

At a morning press conference at Minute Maid Park, the Astros Foundation revealed a partnership with the Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) and introduced several initiatives to raise awareness and educate the Houston community to prevent family violence.

"We're committed long term with you folks and we want to be a big help," Astros owner Jim Crane said in his opening remarks to the many advocacy group spokespeople assembled at the media event. "Being a Major League Baseball team gives you a lot of attention, and this will help create an important platform for the Houston community, and speak to a much larger audience."

The Astros Foundation will work with the TCFV Region 7 Agencies through several initiatives:

• Fliers will be posted on each of the more than 500 bathroom stalls in Minute Maid Park. The fliers will include domestic violence hotline phone numbers, as well as a list of area agencies where people can go for help.

• The Astros Foundation, after learning of needs stemming from Hurricane Harvey recovery, responded to a grant proposal by donating $214,000 to Family Services of Southeast Texas to finish off the completion of its women's center.

• The foundation is donating $10,000 to the Montgomery County Women's Shelter, and it is sponsoring several fundraisers in conjunction with The FamilyTime Crisis and Counseling Center, Fort Bend County Women's Center, Daya, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA) and the Houston Area Women's Center (HAWC).

• The Astros Foundation is also partnering with AVDA to facilitate the Futures Without Violence program, "Coaching Boys into Men," which teaches leaders and coaches how to break the cycle of family violence by educating the next generation. This initiative will start with the Community Leaders and Astros Youth Academy programs and with existing partner school districts.

"This program engages young male athletes to build healthy relationships," said Astros Foundation Executive Director Twila Carter. "It offers effective strategies and interactive scenarios to teach boys that violence never equals strength. It teaches tools for respectful relationships to help stop harassment abuse and sexual assault."

Back in July, the Astros sparked controversy when they acquired Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays. Months earlier, while Osuna was a member of the Blue Jays, he was arrested in Toronto and charged with assault for an alleged incident involving his girlfriend. Osuna was placed on administrative leave and served a 75-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy, a punishment Osuna did not appeal.

When the Astros acquired him, Osuna was finishing his suspension and his court case was still ongoing. The case has since been resolved with Osuna accepting a 12-month peace bond, which is similar to probation.

Those circumstances put the Astros in the middle of a controversy, prompting them to reach out to area domestic violence prevention groups. Carter invited 16 organizations to a meeting to begin the process of incorporating the Astros into community efforts to combat domestic violence.

"We had a meeting in August to gain a deeper understanding of what victims look like, the services, provided and prevention programming already in place," Carter said. "We quickly learned our response could be through volunteers, through resources, through financial support, but most importantly, our voice."

Gloria Terry, executive director of TCFV, commended the Astros for being proactive and expressing a genuine willingness to learn about a topic they did not know a lot about when the process began.

"I think it was a difficult circumstance that forced this conversation," Terry said. "But from that, I think we all learned a great deal. What was clear to me was there was not in any way, the Astros [having] the acumen to know how deep the issue and the impact was in Houston Proper and in the region. When we started to have that conversation, they were completely 100 percent on board -- 'Help us learn, help us grown as an organization.' "

Several trends from TCFV's Honoring Texas Victims report were shared at Monday's press event. They included:

• Of the 136 women killed by male intimate partners in 42 Texas counties in 2017, Harris County had the most, with a total loss of 29 women.

• 65 percent of perpetrators used a firearm to kill their female partner.

• 70 percent of perpetrators killed their partners at home.

• The youngest victim killed in the report was 14 and the oldest was 84.

• 211 children lost a parent in these acts of family violence.

• In addition to the loss of 136 women, these violent acts resulted in the death of 15 others and injuries of seven others.

October, Domestic Violence Awareness month, is also Major League Baseball's most important month on the field. The Astros, currently involved in the American League Championship Series, expressed a desire to use their elevated platform this month to draw attention to their newest community initiative.

"We're going to move forward and use this as a platform to really get out there and talk about family violence," Crane said. "You saw all the things we've done already. Once you saw the concern and how deep the concern was in our community, we felt it was our part to add to one of our core values and that's what we did and we acted on it right away."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Houston Astros, Roberto Osuna