What in the world is that noise?!

Posted on April 18, 2018

“What in the world is that noise?!”

And other questions about our play therapy program here at DCFOF.

Guest Blog Author: Dr. Dina Yousef, Child & Adolescent Counselor

You may have wondered what that loud banging throughout the building is, or why there might be a trail of sand left behind in the hallways. You might also wonder why there are colorful and random paint splatters on some of the walls here at the agency. You might even see someone walking around with a smile on her face with paint and glitter in her hair, and she might have just come out of a play session!

While we try our best to contain these kinds of situations; it’s important to know that powerful work is being done here! Many believe that “child’s play” is exactly that- just child’s play. Nothing powerful. Nothing meaningful. Just play. But for children, toys are their words and play is their language.

Play therapy is a developmentally appropriate intervention for children to work through a variety of issues and concerns. Children can learn to heal from their experiences by utilizing toys and materials that enable them to express themselves without having to use “grown up” words. An angry child may be hammering the log with all their might! Or…they could be “building a spaceship to go on an adventure!” A child leaving the room with paint all over their hands might be perceived as messy, but the paint may have allowed that child to create a “masterpiece” that facilitated and encouraged pride and confidence within themselves.

We have seen great success in our clients when utilizing play therapy. Parents often report reduced behaviors in anxiety and depression as well as an increase in confidence and self-esteem. They also express seeing an improvement in their child’s ability to self-regulate as well as having more self-control. As staff members, it’s always an entertaining day when children enter the building, as they are skilled in keeping us on our toes. Literally (for the child that sprints off to the playroom) and figuratively.

In 2017 we served 231 child and adolescent clients, with over 2,400 hours of play and activity therapy. As providers, guiding a child through the healing process and watching them begin to thrive again is such a gift. Thank you to everyone in the community that has continued to support DCFOF and our Children's Program- you have changed lives!

Written by Dr. Dina Yousef, Child & Adolescent Counselor

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Jewels for Justice

Posted on April 12, 2018

GET TICKETS

It's Kendra Time!! 

The 2nd Annual Kendra Scott Pop Up Trunk Show will be held on May 10th at Bentley Station. Our Women's Auxiliary invites you to join us for an evening of fashion, fun and fundraising. A percent of all the proceeds raised will go right back into the life- saving services for victims of sexual and domestic violence right here in our community. Justice is one of the core pillars of the work we do for victims here at Friends of the Family and we are excited to celebrate just that at Jewels for Justice 2018.  

Tickets are on sale now! Tickets will be $35 and include apps, cocktails, mocktails and more! We have an early bird special going on for $25 so be sure to grab your tickets now.

GET TICKETS

If you're interested in being a sponsor of this event and partnering with our Women's Auxiliary reach out for more information. Thank you for investing in safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention for victims of sexual and domestic violence.  

SPONSOR

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Pain to Shame

Posted on April 3, 2018

Pain to Shame is the personal story that Brandi, a survivor of sexual abuse, has bravely shared with us. We would like to take a second to thank her so much for sharing this story, and acknowledge how much courage it takes to put her story out into the world. We thank you, and we are proud of how far you have come!

*Please note that the following story may be triggering and includes topics of child sexual abuse and self-harm. If you need to talk call our 24 Hour Crisis Line at 940-382-7273 or 800-572-4031.*

Pain to Shame

I used to believe that sexual abuse was a curse in my family. My great-great grandmother was disowned and forced to move from Czechoslovakia (at the time) because she had gotten pregnant by rape. Following my great-great grandmother, almost every female in my family experienced sexual abuse… including me. This fact had me assume that my family had been cursed by some Bohemian gypsy back in Czechoslovakia.

I decided to start telling my story and I found that my story was similar to my friends', co-workers’, classmates’, and acquaintances’ stories. The curse I thought I had was actually more of an epidemic, not just to my family but to women everywhere. Abuse can happen to anyone, but it is much more common for women.

My first memory is being abused. I was three years old. Most people can’t remember anything before 5 or 6. In my research, I found that a young brain can be awoken by a traumatic event. I was being sexually abused by my older neighbor, my best friend at the time. I was then groomed to be raped by her father who was also abusing her.

I became a scared… no… a terrified child. I was terrified of nighttime. I was terrified of being alone. I was terrified of getting in trouble. I was terrified of men. I was terrified of talking in front of people. I was terrified of being wrong, and doing wrong. I was even terrified of wiping myself after using the bathroom. I felt terror in the clenching of my insides. Anytime I was stressed, I clenched. My whole female anatomy was controlled by fear.

I was a very sickly child too. It now makes sense that the stress wore down my tiny body. Because I was so young, there were no warning signs for my family. Scared, sensitive, and sickly just became my personality.

I had my first flashback at 19. The flashbacks became brutal. I experienced my pain in my head and even in my body, over and over and over again. These flashbacks should have caused me to be upset, and maybe even wanting revenge, against my abusers. Unfortunately, the upset was all internalized and created shame that only wanted to hurt me. The shame and pain caused me to hurt myself. I hated myself to the point that I wanted to die. Why did I want to take my own life for someone hurting me?  Why do victims take our pain and turn it into shame?

My grandmother, a victim of the wide-spread “curse” in my family, believes that abuse is deserved. She believes that rape is the victim's fault, even as a victim herself. This answered my questions. We tell women to dress appropriately, to not go out late at night, to not drink with men, to not go to a man’s house alone, to fight back, to have a rape whistle… we have been taught that we as women, MUST prevent rape to stop rape.

The advice of our old-fashioned grandparents have not stopped rape or abuse. There is still sexual assault happening every 98 seconds in America according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). So blaming the victim has obviously not succeeded in ending abuse.  It has just created a new form of personal abuse, which is shame.

My shame became stronger as the people around me added more shame. I became a little too open about what happened to me. My best friend told me I could be making it up. My therapist said she can’t help me until I learn to help myself first. My doctor said I was using my abuse as a crutch to get more meds. My classmate said it shouldn’t take this long for me to get over it. My coworker said I was too dramatic. My family friend said that everyone gets raped, so what’s different about you? I had 99% of my friends leave because I was just too much.

Shame began to build up while reading other victims' stories. A woman was trapped and repeatedly raped by her father for 24 years in Austria. I would feel like all my feelings were inadequate to what she has had to feel.

I felt shame about the scars on my wrist. I felt shame about the weight I gained. I felt shame about wanting sex and not wanting sex. I felt shame about wanting to die. I felt shame for not being able to hold a job. I felt shame about not having energy to study. I felt shame for sleeping all day. I felt shame for being depressed. I felt shame that I needed medicine to make it through each day. I felt shame that I wasn’t beautiful enough to be abused.

Today after 11 attempts of suicide, after multiple sexual assaults, and an overwhelming amount of shame, I have become myself. I am a bold, trusting, energetic, charismatic, strong, powerful, loving, loud, intelligent woman that has experienced pain, but no longer feels shame. I found such a wonderful person behind all the abuse and shame. I am the most important person in my life. I will not let my past hold me back. I will only let it make me stronger, which is why I am here today speaking in front of you. No matter what happens to me now or in the future. No one gets to have 20 more years of my life. Because of organizations like Denton County Friends of the Family, because of my mother, because of my cousin who passed as a victim, because of my best friend who wouldn’t let me stop going, and because of my brilliant fiancé helped me see that I am worthy of love: I am, now, a survivor.

Unfortunately, a world without sexual and domestic abuse is not in the near future. There is law enforcement not taking abuse seriously, as seen by the multiple police calls Nicole Simpson made to police of domestic attacks before her violent death. There are judges like the judge in the Brock Turner case that do not take sexual assault seriously.  There is a social stigma pointed at the victims but there’s rarely a finger pointed at the abusers. There is a depressing reality that abuse is not near extinction. It takes death by sexual and/or physical abuse to have rape or domestic violence finally realized and legally recorded.

But there is something we can change here while we fiercely and strongly take back the night. For those who know someone who has been abused: Treat her like a warrior. Raise her up. Do not use the victim word. Do not ask her why she didn’t leave. Do not judge how she is reacting to her abuse.  Do not alienate her as your friend. Do not EVER suggest that she had any part of her abuse. Do not leave her alone when she is her most sick. Please do show her that she is loved.

For those who have been abused: Treat yourself like a delicate flower. Use kind words when thinking about yourself. Point out the things you like about yourself, to yourself. Remind your soul that you are here for a reason. Remind your will of the strength it takes to get through trauma. Remind your heart that it’s worth love. Remind your body that you are safe. Remind your dreams that they can still come true. Remind your hands that they can be still while your world is shaking. Remind your muscles that tension is temporary.  Remind yourself that you are loved. You are loved by you.

And if there is anyone here with power, help.

- Written by Brandi Slocum, Survivor and Speaker's Bureau member

GET HELP

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#HerStory

Posted on March 20, 2018

March is National Women's History Month and we are honoring women who are making an impact for victims of sexual and domestic violence. We are honoring women who fight against all forms of discrimination against women by sharing #HerStory. We will share how each of these women pictured, and so many more, have made an impact for victims of sexual and domestic violence throughout the month of March. 

We've highlighted our founder and first Executive Director who was recently awarded the NASW pioneer award. Our Director of Advocacy who's passion and purpose is found as she thinks back to her mother and grandmother's story of abuse and assault. We are talking to volunteers, advocates, staff and impact makers who are all taking a stand for victims. 

We invite you to join us as we celebrate women locally and across the globe making history by sharing #HerStory.  

Check out each woman's story of impact at dcfof.org/herstory. 

Read #HerStory 

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Shelter Partnerships

Posted on March 14, 2018

Our experts do a lot to provide the safety and support that our clients seeking shelter need. From a roof over their heads, to food on the table, to a shoulder to lean on, clients who stay in our shelter know that they are cared for and supported through thick and thin. But the truth is- we wouldn't be able to do any of that without the support and strength of our community behind us.

"Community partnerships help us provide holistic services to our clients that address each individual and family’s unique needs," says Taylor Cameron, Director of Residential and Crisis Services. "Currently at shelter we are so grateful to have a variety of other agencies provide their services on site, so that it is more accessible for our residents."

For example, Goodwill Job Resource Center sends their staff to our shelter to assist clients with resume building, job searches, applications, interview skills, transportation, and job skills. This assistance empowers our clients in long lasting and meaningful ways by building their confidence and assisting with self-sufficiency. Another impactful partnership is with our local Texas Health and Human Service Commission office, who provides staff to assist residents with Medicaid, SNAP, and TANF. They help clients with applications, renewals, and problem solving regarding their accounts. This services provides our clients with resources to help meet their immediate needs. In addition, Denton County Transportation Authority staff provides residents with training regarding how to access the local bus and train system. Understanding the local transportation system provides our residents with empowerment and independence.

These partnerships help us meet our goal to support our clients on their journey towards healing. From donating items, to volunteering their time, our community partners enable us to turn every shelter client into a success story. THANK YOU!

Get Involved

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Welcome Dr. Powell!

Posted on March 8, 2018

Welcome Dr. Powell! 

  

Please join us in welcoming our new Adult Counselor and Sexual Assault Advocacy Team Coordinator Kim Powell, PhD, LPC-S. Dr. Powell has extensive experience serving the community in her role as a counselor. She has been counseling for over 20 years, working as a campus counselor for 15 years and as an intervention counselor in the school setting for 4 years. In addition to school counseling, she worked at a residential treatment center that served clients with chemical and behavioral addictions both during and after her doctoral internship.  

Dr. Powell's credential's include: a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s degree in educational leadership, master’s level graduate work in counseling and development and women’s studies, certifications as a teacher and school counselor, a PhD in family therapy, and she is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor.  I think we can all agree she is impressive- her credentials needed their own paragraph! 

  

Dr. Kim Powell has taken charge of our Survivor Advocacy Team (SAT) since her arrival at DCFOF. SAT is a mixed group of dedicated community volunteers, interns, and staff who are committed to providing support and resources to victims of sexual assault and relationship violence when they need it most. SAT members accompany victims at the hospital, providing information, clothing, and a teddy bear for comfort. SAT members may also accompany the victim to the police station or court if requested. At the time of crisis you are the single person that does not want or need anything from the victim. You are simply there as a resource and for support. This volunteer role is so important, and due to the nature of what SAT members encounter, there is an additional 30 hour training required.  

But in the end, as it is with all of our staff, Kim's motivation is all about the people we serve. 

"I counseled in private practice for about a year, but discovered that I preferred to work in a setting with other professionals with a common mission" says Dr. Powell. "I have made Denton my home for more than 25 years. I am looking forward to and am honored to serve my community, especially women and children affected by intimate partner violence, by being part of the mission of Denton County Friends of the family. I am passionate about serving women and helping them to own their voices and create their best lives." 

Learn more about SAT

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Typical warning signs of abuse

1 in 4 women will experience intimate partner violence

591 clients were served through legal services in 2017