Reproductive Coercion

Posted on May 23, 2019

Reproductive Coercion 

Many times, when we talk about domestic violence and sexual assault we hear about verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. When sexual abuse is discussed it is usually attributed to rape or sexual assault. Earlier this month we talked about how financial abuse is a form of domestic violence, which even though it occurs in 99% of victims is lesser known than other types of abuse. Today we are going to discuss another lesser known form of exerting abusive power and control over a partner: Reproductive Coercion. 

According to a 2011 study done by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, of the 3,000 people surveyed, 25% reported that they were victims of what is known as Reproductive Coercion. Reproductive Coercion is defined as a form of domestic violence (AKA intimate partner violence) where behavior concerning reproductive health is used to maintain power, control, and domination within a relationship and over a partner through an unwanted pregnancy.  

So what does reproductive coercion or birth control tampering look like? 

-Refusal to wear a condom or take birth control 

-Breaking or Removing a Condom during intercourse on purpose 

-Lying about their methods of birth control (claiming to have had a vasectomy when they have not; not being on the pill when they said they were) 

-Purposefully passing on STI’s to their partner 

-Tampering with birth control pills either by flushing them, damaging them, or poking holes in condoms 

-Forcing their partner to get an abortion or preventing them from getting one 

-Continually keeping their partner pregnant  

-Monitoring their partner’s menstrual cycle 

-Removing an IUD or ring 

In 2013 another study took place in Rhode Island when an OBGYN noticed many of her patients were getting pregnant after they had requested birth control. The physician surveyed 641 patients and learned that 16% were pressured into pregnancy in some form or another, mostly through destruction of their birth control methods or tampering with their birth control methods.  

Reproductive Coercion can happen to anyone. It is a way to maintain power and control over one’s partner and is usually just one aspect of the abuse occurring at home. Unfortunately, the resulting pregnancy can then become one of the most dangerous times in a woman’s life, especially if she is in an abusive relationship.  

Statistics:  

1 in 4 women are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault 

1 in 7 report experiencing birth control sabotage at some point in their life 

1 in 5 women report that their partners pressured them into getting pregnant 

What can you do? Always start by believing. If you or someone you know has had their birth control tampered with, provide them with our Crisis Line number at 940-382-7273 or toll free at 800-572-4031. OBGYN’s are also here to help, as well as the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. We can help provide you with the resources you may need through our free Advocacy, Counseling, and Legal services. You are not alone. 

National Domestic Violence Hotline

The Cut

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Clarice's Story

Posted on May 20, 2019

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) states that "on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men." 98% of those 10 million victims are also battling financial abuse from their abusive partner on a daily basis, making it almost impossible for them to become financially independent. Friends of the Family's Transitional Housing Program provides survivors of family violence with tools, resources and financial assistance to be able to build a foundation for a safer life. Friends of the Family knows that survivors leaving an abusive relationship are fighting an up hill battle and want to help every step of the way. The following is a client's story who was able to find independence and emotional well-being with the help of Friends of the Family's Transitional Housing Program. 

When Clarice came into the Transitional Housing Program, she was facing a multitude of barriers. She was experiencing homelessness as a direct result of the violence her ex-partner had inflicted, which included physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse. In addition, she was involved with CPS, multiple medical concerns, no health insurance, student loan debt, and poor credit. Her advocate worked with her to address her safety and legal concerns first, by helping her safety plan and obtain a protective order. They then focused on the client’s health. Her advocate connected her with local medical and dental resources and assisted her with signing up for benefits. Once the immediate concerns regarding safety, housing, medical, and physical needs were addressed, the client decided to start accessing counseling through our agency to address the trauma that she had survived. Clarice worked extremely hard to reach her goals while in our program. She began working on her custody case regarding her daughters who had been separated from her due to CPS involvement, and was able to begin spending more time with her daughters, which increased her hope and motivation for the future. Clarice focused on budgeting, saving money, and her housing plan for once she completed our program. She and her advocate worked to set up a payment plan for her student loans and she began to repair her credit. Next, they created a housing plan and located an apartment for her to move in to when the time came.  She was also able to get much needed car repairs, so that she could reliably get to and from work each day. However, as she was working towards her goals in case management, more barriers arose. She was able to obtain health insurance through her work, but was not able to access the benefits for two months. Also around this time, an individual she had been acquaintances with began to consistently harass and stalk her through call and text. Clarice and her advocate worked to address her safety with the new threat that had arisen by safety planning regarding her home, work, travel, and technology use. 


Despite all of the barriers that Clarice faced, during her time in the Transitional Housing program, she was promoted at her job twice and started training new staff. She accessed legal advocacy, housing advocacy, case management, counseling, and budgeting. She obtained a protective order, secured more time with her daughters, and qualified for Crime Victims Compensation to help her financially with her move into a new apartment. At the end of our program, she was able to obtain a lease in her own name and moved into her own apartment near her daughters and work. Clarice completed our program proud of all of the goals she had accomplished and hopeful for her and her daughters’ futures.  
 

If you would like to learn more about how to support the efforts of Denton County Friends of the Family's Transitional Housing Program with time, talent or treasure and become a Housing Partner email our Community Resource Coordinator, Paige

Thank you for investing in safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention for victims of sexual and domestic violence in our community. 

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Labor of Love Fair 2019

Posted on May 15, 2019

Being a new mom or deciding to add another bundle to your family can at times be overwhelming. Lucky for Denton, Chelsea Wolfington and Elizabeth Bernal understood the struggle of navigating through the journey of becoming a new parent and learning about all the available options and resources that are out there to choose from and wanted to make it easier! Chelsea and Elizabeth are the co organizers for the Labor of Love Fair 2019, which is a free resource and information fair for expecting moms and new parents. The Labor of Love Fair is also graciously benefiting Denton County Friends of the Family. They will be collecting donations of diapers, wipes, formula, and other needed baby items from guests attending the fair in exchange for raffle tickets. All extra monies raised by the Labor of Love Fair will also be donated towards the services provided by Friends of the Family. Read more below about why Chelsea and Elizabeth decided to organize the Labor of Love Fair and the type of vendors and resources it will be offering. 

"After having children of our own, starting businesses while raising toddlers, and having many conversations that started with, “Why didn’t we know this existed...?” The idea came to us to bring together all the resources we had needed during our pregnancies, births, and postpartum periods under one roof so other families, instead of wishing someone had the answer, could know who had the answer and how to contact them. 


Our event will feature vendors from every aspect of pregnancy and early parenting. We will have information, resources, products, and services from midwives, doulas, prenatal massage therapists, and lactation consultants to newborn care specialists, women’s outreach, crafters, natural care reps, local makers, and more!


 The Labor of Love Fair will be at the Denton Civic Center on August 25th, 2019 from 2-5 PM. Admission is free and children are encouraged to attend. There will be a children’s area with activities for different age ranges."

Learn More

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Shop for Jewels to Invest in Justice!

Posted on May 7, 2019

Shop for Jewels to Invest in Justice!

                                                                                                                                                                                         

2018 Photo Album

Jewels for Justice

Saturday, June 8th

11:30AM- 1:00PM

Private Residence of Charla Bradshaw

Presented By

GET TICKETS

It's Kendra Scott time! On Saturday, June 8th the DCFOF Women's Auxiliary is hosting the third annual Jewels for Justice, presented by Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers and hosted at the lovely home of Charla Bradshaw. Get ready for an afternoon of fun, fashion, and fundraising for a great cause.  Just in time for the new summer line, you get a chance to shop gorgeous Kendra Scott jewelry while making an impact. All ticket sales and a portion of jewelry sales go back into DCFOF services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in our community. Every person who comes out to the event is truly making an impact!

According to the Kendra Scott website "every Kendra Scott piece is intricately and artfully designed at our state of the art studio in Austin, Texas. As a creative mind with a love of natural gemstones, Kendra designed her first collection of jewelry in 2002. The foundation of Kendra’s success has been her infectious energy and entrepreneurial spirit, which took her from a $500 project in the spare bedroom of her home to a billion-dollar fashion brand loved globally. Known for her unique use of color and quality materials, Kendra has created collections of timeless pieces that have won over loyal fans, media and celebrities alike. Since she began her company, Kendra has lived by three core values: Family, Fashion and Philanthropy. She created a brand and culture that authentically values giving back and making a positive difference in the community."

But the jewels aren't all- get ready for some delicious bites and a mimosa bar! The only thing that makes shopping better is doing it with a cold cocktail in hand. The brunch bites are courtesy of Chef Mark McDaniel, local caterer and generous supporter of DCFOF. You can learn more about his catering company HERE. Get ready for goodies like prosciutto wrapped melons, spinach artichoke dip, and savory croissant breakfast bread pudding- YUM!

We are so excited and grateful to host this fabulous event at the private residence of Charla Bradshaw! Charla Bradshaw is an accomplished board certified family law attorney and Denton Managing Shareholder at KoonsFuller Family Law Firm.  Awarded 2016’s Best Divorce Lawyer by Murray Media’s “Best of Denton County,” Bradshaw has also been listed among the “Best Lawyers in America” since 2011.  She was one of the  Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas (2005, 2014 and 2015) and rated one of the Best Women Lawyers in North Texas by D Magazine in 2010. You can read her full bio HERE.

We are very grateful for the support of our presenting sponsor Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers. According to their website "Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers opened in August 1998. We chose to become a part of the Denton County community because we found Denton to be a place that continues to embrace the traditional values of community. We are proud to be a part of such a caring and connected society. As we’ve grown, we’ve expanded to help represent clients in Collin County and really enjoy helping clients in both counties with their family law cases. Our firm has had the pleasure and distinction of being named Best Family Law Firm by the Best of Denton County and "Best Law Firms" by U.S. News Best Lawyers." Learn more about their firm HERE.

As you can tell, this event is going to be a blast! But above everything else, lets remember why this event matters. 100% of ticket sales and a portion of Kendra Scott sales go right back into DCFOF services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in our community such as: emergency shelter, counseling, play therapy, legal services, advocacy and case management, transitional housing, 24-Hour crisis line, hospital and court accompaniment, a food pantry, and community education. When you shop at Jewels for Justice you are directly supporting the members of our community who need your help, and making a bigger impact than you think. It is hard to put into words what it means to victims and survivors to see 100 community members come out to an event just to support THEM! For people who have been so isolated and made to feel that no one would support or believe them, you showing up matters! We thank you for coming out to Jewels for Justice and taking a stand against domestic violence and sexual assault.

Get your tickets now and shop JEWELS to invest in JUSTICE! 

GET TICKETS

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Donna Bloom- Shifting Blame

Posted on May 2, 2019

A note from our Director of Legal Services, Donna Bloom JD, commenting on this article from Dallas News Why protective orders didn't stop ex-boyfriends from killing 2 Dallas-area women

Here's what Donna had to say: 

"This article once again focuses on the victim and what she didn’t do. It fails to address so many systemic issues like the low bond set for a strangulation case. Also, it’s great to have more comprehensive judicial oversight over high risk offenders but can we talk about how long it takes for a case to be investigated, arrest warrants to be issues, cases to be transferred from police to prosecutors and the length of a pending case before an offense is adjudicated. And this is often the result of understaffing and crowded court dockets. There’s so much work to be done and our conversation really needs to go beyond the depth of this article. And finally, protective orders are intended to work in concert with a system of accountability for the offender. A system where the crime is taken seriously by those who know better (do you see what I've done there... focus on us - judges, police, prosecutors, advocates - not her). We must do better and our desire to focus on what the victim does or does not do shifts blame and steals focus from solutions and the responsibility those of us who know better have to make her safe and her protective order more than a piece of paper."

Want to learn more about getting involved at Friends of the Family and advocating for victims of sexual and domestic violence?

Become a volunteer, join our speakers bureau or attend one of our upcoming educational programs. Learn more at dcfof.org/volunteer or email volunteer@dcfof.org 

About Donna Bloom 

Ms. Bloom has more than twenty-seven years of experience in the domestic violence field, having served as an executive director, community educator and client advocate and since 2007 as the Director of Legal Services where she provides civil legal services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  Additionally, Ms. Bloom is seen as an expert in the field throughout the State of Texas and is a sought after speaker and trainer on the complex issues associated with the intersection between domestic violence and child abuse and neglect and civil and criminal justice remedies for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

About Friends of the Family

At Friends of the Family we provide compassionate, comprehensive services to those impacted by rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence, while partnering with our community to promote safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention.

If you or someone you know needs help please call our 24-hour crisis line at 940-382-7273 OR 800-572-4031.
 

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Why Drives Matter

Posted on May 1, 2019

Why Drives Matter 

Denton County Friends of the Family’s Marketing and Development Program keeps busy throughout the year by promoting and holding multiple donation drives. Our drives are to collect specific items for our clients in mass quantity. A huge aspect of domestic violence is financial abuse. This form of abuse may not be as obvious to the outside world as a bruise or an injury. Financial abuse is slow; it’s sweet gestures, it’s an illusion, and it’s isolating. Victims of financial abuse may hold down a job and work for a living, but they may not actually ever see their paycheck, or if they do see any money, it is an allowance strictly controlled by their partner. Another form of economic abuse is the sabotage of working conditions – creating an environment where the victim is fired or let go from their job. Finally, the destruction of their credit:  abusive partners will choose to take out many credit lines or rack up large purchases, which they then refuse to pay off, all in their victim's name, so when the victim does leave, they have no money and terrible credit, making moving on very difficult. We provide you with this information because it is the force behind why we hold these drives. Denton County Friends of the Family wants to do all we can to alleviate financial burdens and help our clients become financially independent, and one of the ways we do that is through our drives

 Swimsuit Drive: April – May 

The Swimsuit Drive is our newest drive, with a goal to collect 200+ swimsuits for our clients’ children. As we all know, children grow every year and swimsuits can be very expensive, especially for a mom who has multiple children. Her focus is not only on their wellbeing, but on putting food on the table, keeping the lights on, and having a roof over their heads. Swimsuits just may not be a top priority for mom, but they are for her children. Kids want to be able to wear a swimsuit that fits them well so they can have fun in the sun, and they deserve to have a memorable summer just like everyone else! Along with swimsuits, we are also collecting swim accessories such as towels, sunscreen, goggles, hats, etc. If you want to sign up to donate, you can visit our drive page below. If you would like to know what our biggest need is, feel free to reach out to Volunteer@dcfof.org

Swimsuit Drive

 Back to School Backpack Drive: June – August 

When summer begins, we set out to start collecting 400+ backpacks and school supplies for our clients’ children. Economic and financial abuse can be a big barrier for a parent getting all the required school supplies for her children. In order to alleviate that burden, we collect new backpacks and all the required school supplies for grades pre-k – 12. The key to a successful school year is having all the right tools at your fingertips, and that means having plenty of pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, and a good sturdy backpack for carrying all of one's textbooks. At the start of June, we will have our needs list posted up on the website, so be on the lookout for that, and if you would like to volunteer or host a drive at your place of business or school, please reach out to Volunteer@dcfof.org

 Thanksgiving Drive: October – November 

The holidays can be very difficult for our clients, as the focus is on family and their family is likely in a state of chaos. It is important for us to be able to empower our clients to have a fun holiday with their children and for them not to feel lost and alone during the holiday season. In October we start collecting canned goods and non-perishable food items for Thanksgiving as well as $10 gift cards. These items include boxed mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cornbread mix, canned veggies, pie filling, pie crusts, rice, beans, mac and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly. We put these kits together with the help of all our wonderful volunteers. Since we are unable to provide protein, like meats and fresh veggies, we collect $10 gift cards to allow the families a choice in the type of meat they provide for their families on Thanksgiving. If you would like to either volunteer or collect these items in October and November, please e-mail Volunteer@dcfof.org

 Adopt a Family: November – December 

Our final and largest drive of the year begins in November, and that is our Adopt a Family Drive. Every year, we ask our clients to provide us with Christmas/Holiday gift wish lists for their children. We then take that list, change the name of the child and pass it on to a donor, who then goes and shops for the child. We request one outfit and three gifts for each child. We also provide a meal kit like our Thanksgiving drive’s meal kit for any family that would like one. We collected gifts for over 700 children last year! It is a massive undertaking, and the community really steps up and helps support our clients in what can be the most difficult time of year for our clients who just want to provide a safe, happy, and memorable holiday season for their children. If you would like to volunteer your time to help sort and organize the donations or would like to shop for a child or family, please e-mail Volunteer@dcfof.org at the beginning of November through the beginning of December. 

 Driving to Safety: All Year 

We have one drive that takes place throughout the year, and that is our Driving to Safety campaign. As we all know, gas prices fluctuate and with summer quickly approaching, prices will begin to soar. When you are just starting again on a path to financial independence, purchasing gas can be another financial burden. We strive to help alleviate that stress by providing gas gift cards and bus passes so that our clients have the freedom to not only come to our Outreach for services, but they can pick up their children from school, go grocery shopping and go to work. If you would like to donate money to a gas gift card or would like to purchase gas gift cards for our clients, you can do so by visiting our Driving to Safety Campaign via the button below.  

Driving to Safety 

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