Denton County Friends of the Family Welcomes Two New Faces

Posted on July 25, 2019

Denton County Friends of the Family has welcomed two new faces to their small but MIGHTY Marketing and Development team! We are delighted to introduce Ximena Montemayor, our new Development Coordinator and Katie Jahangiri, our new Director of Marketing and Development.

Ximena earned her Bachelor's in Psychology and minor in Human Development and Family Studies in 2017 from the University of North Texas before pursuing and completing her Master’s in Public Administration this past May. During her time in college, she has served in various leadership roles and completed an internship with local nonprofit. Ximena grew up in Cedar Hill, Texas but quickly fell in love with Denton’s authenticity after moving here for college. She is very excited for the opportunity to stay in Denton and serve in a role that gives back to the community she has fallen in love with! In her free time she enjoys traveling, exploring places such as Japan, Peru, Colombia, and Costa Rica.

Katie has lived in the Denton Community for over six years. After graduating from the University of North Texas, she went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University. Katie brings extensive experience to the agency, having worked in both the private and nonprofit sector to build fundraising, training, marketing, and business development strategies. Above all, she is passionate about supporting women and children, and believes that she can use her unique talents to help end domestic violence in our community. 
As the Director of Marketing and Development, Katie will lead her team in building relationships across Denton County, promoting and safeguarding the Friends of the Family brand, and cross-collaborating across our agency to ensure the ongoing success of our programs and services.   

Welcome to the family Katie and Ximena! 

Interested in learning how your business or organization can give back to your community? Email Communityrelations@dcfof.org
 

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Transitional Housing Provides Safe New Beginnings

Posted on July 17, 2019

Survivors of domestic violence often leave their entire lives behind to seek safety. Even worse, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that up to 99% of all domestic violence victims experience compounded economic abuse by their partner. At DCFOF, we know that economic abuse can take on many forms. For example, abusers often force the victim to quit their job or coerce them into non-consensual credit-related transactions that will negatively impact the victim’s credit. As a result of economic abuse, victims often feel forced to stay or return to their abusive situation.   

That’s where we come in.  

Friends of the Family’s Transitional Housing Program offers some relief to survivors of family violence by helping clients find a new safe home, as well as help furnish and provide basic household items. The Transitional Housing Program helps domestic violence victims create a safe place to heal and gain their independence. Since February 2018, Friend of the Family’s Transitional Housing Program has helped 193 clients — 66 families — find their safe new beginning. Below is Rhonda’s story; she and her children were one of the 66 families. 

When Rhonda entered our Transitional Housing program, she and her 3-year-old son were facing eviction from their home. She was pregnant with her second child, and she had been experiencing extreme physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse from her partner. Beyond that, the ongoing abuse had impacted her ability to maintain employment and stable housing for her and her son. Unfortunately, Rhonda wanted to finish school but was forced to put her plans on hold. The violence and instability she experienced at the hands of her abuser felt insurmountable. Eventually, the abuser was arrested for family violence, which only left Rhonda attempting to support herself and her child, as well as deal with a pending home eviction. Nevertheless, she was determined to survive and create a better life for her son and unborn child.   

Through the coordinated effort of multiple DCFOF departments, our Legal Team was able to get the eviction dismissed, and our Transitional Housing Team secured a new apartment for Rhonda and her son. Moreover, the Transitional Housing Program provided her with rental and utility assistance for six months to give her time to begin healing, earning an income, and provide care of her son. While in the Transitional Housing Program, Rhonda accessed counseling for herself, play therapy for her son, legal advocacy, case management, along with financial childcare and education assistance. Meanwhile, her advocate assisted her in working with law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office as the abuser’s criminal case proceeded and helped her obtain a protective order against the abuser. At the same time, her advocate worked as a liaison between her and Child Protective Services to help her meet her goals and follow her safety plan. Our program staff had the exciting privilege to meet Rhonda’s new baby when she was born just a few months into our program. Staff and volunteers came together to provide needed baby items to help with the transition time for her as they became a family of three.   

Rhonda was determined to work hard and provide for herself and her two children. During her time with us, she obtained a full-time job, received a promotion, and became a trainer for new employees. Soon after, she was able to begin fulfilling her dream of going back to school, where she completed a certification program through the local community college. Rhonda even has plans to continue her education this fall. When she exited our program, she had increased her income and moved her family into an apartment in her name. Above all, Rhonda has made a new life for her family and worked hard to achieve her goals. Like many other survivors, Rhonda needed safe, accessible housing for her and her children, so that she could begin working on her goals and healing.  Thankfully, the Friends of the Family Transitional Housing program can provide those necessary resources, support, and love to those in need.  

Transitional Housing 101  

How You Can Help 

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Annual Partner: Julian Firm

Posted on July 12, 2019

Annual Partnership: The Julian Firm, P.C.

Jared Julian, Founder and President of The Julian Firm, P.C., has awarded Denton County Friends of the Family $5,000 as their Partner with a Purpose Annual Partnership. Mr. Julian is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Julian has been a licensed attorney in the State of Texas since 2001. The attorneys and paralegals at the Julian Firm, P.C. represent individuals going through difficult family law related matters including, divorce, child custody disputes, child support issues, alimony/spousal maintenance, modification of prior court orders and all other family law related matters.  

Mr. Julian is recognized as a Family Law expert in the State of Texas and he is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Less than one percent of all Texas law attorneys are board certified in Family Law. Mr. Julian is also rated as “Super Lawyer,” a distinction limited to 5 percent of all Texas attorneys. For over 15 years, Mr. Julian’s practice has focused on family law and has handled well over a thousand cases. He has handled extremely high net-worth divorces, highly contested custody disputes and C.P.S. termination cases, but also counsels his clients through more amicable cases often resolved through settlement. Mr. Julian is a highly sought-after mediator with a successful mediation resolution rate over 95%. 

“What we know is that the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is as they are trying to end the relationship,” says Toni Johnson-Simpson DCFOF Executive Director. “It is so important to have professionals in the family law field that recognize signs of domestic violence and are actively working to support victims in their day to day lives. As a member of the DCFOF Board of Directors and our 2019 Partner with a Purpose, Jared Julian and his firm have taken a stand against domestic violence. As Denton County continues to expand, so does the need for our services. In the last year, we have seen a 50% increase in children served with play therapy, a 52% increase in clients needing advocacy services, and a 24% increase in new clients coming through our doors. It is more important than ever to have strong partnerships like the one with The Julian Firm, P.C. to continue to provide the quality and quantity of services to every person in need. I want to thank Mr. Julian and the staff of The Julian Firm, P.C. for their commitment to safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in our community.” 

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Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and the Trans Community

Posted on July 10, 2019

Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and the Trans Community

Beyond Pride Month

By: TH Housing Navigator, Victoria Schofield


As we continue our series regarding serving the LGBTQ community, this blog post focuses on gender identity and expression, and the intersections of domestic and sexual violence. It is important for service providers to know how to uplift, support, and celebrate individuals within the community. Gender identity and expression within the Trans community is fluid – from people who identify as the opposite gender than was assigned to them, to people who do not feel connected to any specific gender (non-binary). The community encompasses an array of experiences with gender, sex, and identity, which affects how individuals move through the world around them, and the unique intersections of their identity. 
The social and systemic discrimination often experienced by this community can be lethal. It would be a disservice to this community if one did not acknowledge the deaths of Trans women of color in the United States. In 2019, at least 10 confirmed Black Trans women have been murdered. According to the Dallas Police Department, at least 3 of those murders have occurred in Dallas. This lack of safety in public has a compounding effect when coupled with the threats transgender people experience in their personal lives. When one layers other identities such as race, ethnicity, or class, there is an increased proximity to violence. 
In order to contextualize this issue, one must discuss the nature of “passing.” Passing is a term for a Transgender person who successfully meets the societal criteria for the gender they identify as.  Some people who identify as Trans do not have access to resources to “pass,” and for others, they choose not to access those resources for personal reasons. For people who identify as non-binary or gender fluid, it can be more complex since their gender expression is not institutionally recognized. Trans people are punished for not meeting the strict standards of gender. Some people report experiencing violence when they are outed, based on claims that they “tricked” someone or “lied.” There are strict laws in several states for changing an individual’s legal paperwork to change their name or the gender assigned at birth, and this further complicates the process of acceptance of one’s gender. They might be called the incorrect name, labeled with incorrect pronouns, and experience others refusing to accept their identity. This can create legal complications, often resulting in Trans people having to out themselves to strangers in order to access resources. Validation and acceptance is important because it creates safety, personal well-being, and inclusion. 
The Trans community shares similar struggles to their LGBQ counterparts, although the manner in which it manifests and the results look very different. Housing and employment are two such examples. It is still legal in several states, including Texas, to fire a person because of their gender expression. Gender identity and expression are often left out of non-discrimination statements. Many people will be barred from employment in the first place, making financial stability difficult to achieve. As a result, it is common for people who are Trans to enter into sex work. Since sex work is so heavily criminalized, it often results in interactions with law enforcement, increasing the likelihood of a criminal record, further barring them from employment. Transgender people also face discrimination in regards to housing, which can be a result of their criminal record, the complication regarding their paperwork, or transphobia. 
There are several other compounding issues that could be entire blog posts in of themselves: Trans people and struggles with safe and adequate healthcare, their safety in the criminal justice system, or mental health. All of these issues can create a strain and result in compounding trauma when coupled with complex issues of DV and SA.  According to the 2015 United States Transgender Survey, 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted during their lifetime. For Black Trans women, that number is higher, with 53% reporting experiencing SA. That same study reported that 20% of the transgender population who were incarcerated experienced SA at the hands of facility staff. Trans people are often put in prisons, jails, or juvenile detention centers that do not match their gender identity, which decreases their safety. SA is often used against Trans people as punishment for defying stereotypes of gender. It is meant to punish the person for their identity, as it is to exert power and control. The transgender community faces verbal harassment, including sexual harassment, specifically focused on their gender identity. 
A study by the Williams Institute found 30-50% of Trans people experience relationship violence in their lifetime. There are few healthy relationship models for this community to look to that are not based in traditional gender roles. The lack of conformity to these gender roles are used as an abuse tactic against Trans people.  Their identities and the relationship dynamics are used as a means to isolate them further from their support systems. Similar to their LGBQ counterparts, the Trans community faces obstacles to reporting and accessing services. Their gender identity will often be used to gaslight experiences with violence or delegitimize identity. The threat of being outed is present in these relationship dynamics, but there is often an increased risk of engagement with law enforcement that might deter someone from reporting DV in the first place. With Trans men, there is a pressure to conform to gendered stereotypes; many will feel pressured to “take it like a man” or to minimize the experiences of violence perpetuated against them. Because most DV and SA services are female-centered, it might be difficult finding affirming, safe resources or accessing shelter. Trans women will often receive messages that they “had it coming,” because of their identity. Many will face discrimination from staff, from other clients seeking services, or from the criminal justice system. 
There is always more to learn and ways to develop so that service providers are working to create safe and accessible services for all survivors. Below are some possible next steps. 
-Create an environment that normalizes asking for another’s pronouns or offering your own. Include them when you introduce yourself in meetings or to new staff. Include them on name tags or in staff directories. Consider the language you use to ask about pronouns, sex, and gender to staff and clients. Use inclusive language when talking about coworkers whose identities have not personally confirmed to you. 
-Be mindful of the environment of the workplace itself. Is gender identity and expression considered in your nondiscrimination statement?  When discussing professional attire, is it heavily gendered? Is there validation of all forms of gender expression? 
-Consider how your agency presents itself to the community. Have you created a space for Trans people to feel safe? Are the bathrooms gendered? Are the messages marketed by your agency heavily gendered? Look at your website, agency materials, social media accounts, and even the physical space of your office. Consider including staff pronouns in your public facing communication, such as business cards or in email signatures. Use statistical and research about the Trans community in your outreach and community education. 
-Encourage your staff to attend LGBTQ-specific training, including training on serving the transgender community. Find opportunities to collaborate with LGBTQ-focused or Trans-specific agencies in your service area, region, or state. Include discussions of gender dynamics, gender roles, and identity in staff trainings. 
-Ask yourself what language you use when asking a client about their sex, gender, pronouns, and name. Consider distinguishing the name they use and the name listed on their documentation. Ask open-ended questions about gender identity and pronouns and mirror the individual’s language. Acknowledge their identity and the compounding violence they have experienced. Acknowledge how they face specific obstacles to accessing safety and ask them if there are challenges they face you have not included in the case management. Be mindful of any referrals given to the client. 
-Be graceful when making mistakes. If you identify someone with the incorrect pronouns, correct yourself, apologize, and allow them to identify their feelings. Center the person and not yourself or your apology. Correct coworkers, other service providers, or anyone who interacts with the client if they misgender someone. 
-Speak out on violence perpetuated against the transgender community. Encourage community partners to work with you in eradicating transphobia. Include the Trans community and Trans activists in this work. Expand your recognition of this community all year round. 

If you or anyone you know is a survivor of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault, our Crisis Line is available 24/7: 940-382-7273 | 800-572-4031 
 

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One Year Around The Sun

Posted on July 3, 2019

One Year Around the Sun 

It has been 365 days since my first day of working for Denton County Friends of the Family as the Community Resource Coordinator and so much has happened! I hit the ground running with our Back to School Drive, and we are officially in the midst of that Drive once more! In my first year, we filled 350 backpacks, packed 300+ meal kits, organized gifts for over 700 children, and collected over 200 swimsuits for our clients! And that was just the drives! You all came out and supported Denton County Friends of the Family by helping with Taste for A Cause, Holiday Express, An Evening of Raised Awareness, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Just Between Friends, and so much more. I have been completely floored by all the community support we receive daily – be it through donations, sponsorships, or volunteering one's time and energy either at our Outreach Office, Upscale Resale (our thrift store), our Emergency Shelter or in our Admin office.  

Let’s keep the momentum going! 

This year our goal is to fill 400 backpacks for our clients, and we once again need our community’s help! We all know how vital education is to a growing brain and a key to the success of that child is having the right tools to thrive in a school environment. We need you, our community, to rally together to collect these items and to fill the backpacks for the 2019-2020 school year. Are you ready to get involved? 

You can register to Donate Here: Back to School

Or sign up to Volunteer Here: Volunteer Portal

I am so grateful for all the volunteers who have come out to support Denton County Friends of the Family in the past year. We wouldn’t be able to expand our services and serve the families we do without your help. If you’re looking for more opportunities, I encourage you to visit our volunteer page or Like our DCFOF Volunteer Facebook page, so you can stay up-to-date on all the volunteer opportunities. We would also love to see you all at our Volunteer Fall Kick-Off this August! We will be gathering at Eureka Park again with games, snacks, activities, and information about all the volunteer opportunities coming up in the fall and winter months. All volunteers are invited: past, present, or future, come say hi and learn about volunteering with Denton County Friends of the Family!  

Fall Kick-Of

I'm looking forward to making Year TWO just as successful as year one! 

-Stephanie Honeycutt | Community Resource Coordinator

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Thank You For Investing

Posted on June 27, 2019

For those of you I have not had the opportunity to personally connect with yet I wanted to pass along that my last day on staff at Denton County Friends of the Family is this month. It has been an amazing journey working with so many passionate leaders over the past few years. I want to thank you for your hard work and support!  

As a childhood survivor of domestic violence I understand firsthand the trauma and life-altering fear created by domestic violence. I also know, as all who share similar backgrounds sadly do, that the echoes of such wounds can be louder than their initial pain, and can continue throughout one’s life, creating cycles that seem impossible to escape.

This power of recognition is exactly what DCFOF helps provide victims throughout our community through educational programs, counseling, and a support system of advocacy and services that bring immense resources to clients’ efforts to be safe, and to cope with the impacts of violence, abuse, and sexual assault.

The work is not done. Your new Director will be stepping up in July (SO EXCITING!). Let’s give her a true welcome with a show of support for DCFOF.

Here’s how you can make an impact: 

1.     Attend Community Conversation on July 2nd | "The Silences We Share In The African American Community"

2.    Support the Back to School Drive 

3. Attend the Hope Center Savannah Grand Opening 

4. Sponsor Taste for a Cause 

5. Donate Items For Clients (summer clean out!)

Thank you for investing in safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention for victims of sexual and domestic violence! You truly do make the difference. 

Cheers to making an impact! 

-Randi Skinner

Let's Stay Connected on LinkedIn

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