Bullying

Posted on August 15, 2018

Bullying is an issue that has existed throughout history. It is something that has the capacity to inflict long-lasting psychological and/or physical damage on the person who is being bullied. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 27% of students ages 12-18 have been bullied at school and 9% have experienced cyberbullying.  Bullying can be anything from mean words and name calling to the destruction of property and physical violence.  Although bullying is a consistent problem among every generation, there are typical warning signs that can help families, teachers, and peers identify who is being bullied and how it may be affecting them.

According to stopbullying.gov

Signs a child is being bullied: 

  • Unexplainable injuries- bruises, scratches. Etc.  
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry 
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness to avoid going to school 
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch. 
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares 
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school 
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations 
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem 
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide 

Signs a child is bullying others:  

  • Get into physical or verbal fights 
  • Have friends who bully others 
  • Are increasingly aggressive 
  • Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently 
  • Have unexplained extra money or new belongings 
  • Blame others for their problems 
  • Don’t accept responsibility for their actions 
  • Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity   

Bullying can have negative effects on the one doing the bullying, the person being bullied, and the people observing the bullying. It is important for schools, parents, and peers to be able to identify the warning signs and be willing to help stop or prevent the bullying. The best way to do this is to help cultivate an environment that is kind and accepting to everyone. Students should be educated about what bullying is, why it is bad, and how to stop or report bullying if they see it happen. 

Cyberbullying is another form of bullying that can be harder to see or notice if the people being bullied don't speak up. Cyberbullying takes place in digital spaces such as text messaging and social media. Examples of cyberbullying include sharing, posting or sending harmful, false, or cruel content about another person. This can often cause embarrassment and humiliation on behalf of the person being bullied. This type of bullying can be persistent since many kids and teens have access to electronic devices and social media at most times throughout the day. According to stopbullying.gov, 21% of students ages 12-18 have experienced cyberbullying. 

Here are some warning signs of cyberbullying according to stopbullying.gov

  • Noticeable increases or decreases in device use, including texting. 
  • A child exhibits emotional responses (laughter, anger, upset) to what is happening on their device. 
  • A child hides their screen or device when others are near, and avoids discussion about what they are doing on their device. 
  • Social media accounts are shut down or new ones appear. 
  • A child starts to avoid social situations, even those that were enjoyed in the past. 
  • A child becomes withdrawn or depressed or loses interest in people and activities.   

The best way to prevent cyberbullying is for parents to be aware of what their child is doing online. This can be challenging since there are so many social media platforms, which means more platforms for potential bullying and harmful content. If you or child is being cyberbullied, make sure to document the bullying through screenshots or other means and report the bullying to the social media platform or the school. Many social media sites and schools have policies and procedures in place for cyberbullying cases and may be able to help put a stop to the bullying.  

No matter what type of bullying, it is vital to show kids the importance of kindness and acceptance. It is important to have open communication with kids so that they will feel comfortable discussing bullying or seeking help from someone they trust. Bullying should never be taken lightly, as it can have a lasting effect on kids for the rest of their lives. By being able to identify warning signs and cultivating a positive and accepting environment, we can all help prevent bullying so kids can have the space to be themselves as they learn and grow.  

For more information on bullying, visit https://www.stopbullying.gov/  

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How We All Can Combat Rape Culture

Posted on August 6, 2018

Last week we talked about rape culture, and some of the different forms it can take. Of course rape is an example, but anything that degrades and dehumanizes women and girls and normalizes violence against them, such as catcalling or victim blaming, feeds into the system of rape culture. This system works on a large cultural scale and seeps into our everyday lives in a way that feels impossible to stop. So what can we do about it? How can one person have any kind of impact on an issue this vast and entrenched in our culture?

Small, everyday acts of resistance and conscious decisions to change behavior and call out behaviors that feed into rape culture is how we will ultimately make a difference in this system. Below is a list of ways you can combat Rape Culture (list from Marshall University). 

How can men and women combat Rape Culture? 

  • Avoid using language that objectifies or degrades women 
  • Speak out if you hear someone else making an offensive joke or trivializing rape 
  • If a friend says she has been raped, take her seriously and be supportive. Believe her!  
  • Think critically about the media’s messages about women, men, relationships, and violence 
  • Be respectful of others’ physical space even in casual situations 
  • Always communicate with sexual partners and do not assume consent 
  • Define your own manhood or womanhood.  Do not let stereotypes shape your actions. 
  • Get involved! Volunteer at DCFOF or Host An Education Workshop at your school or business.

It has always been true that the only thing in the world we can truly control are our own actions. By making conscious decisions every day not to feed into the rape culture around us, we can set an example for others and continue to educate those who are not informed about the hurt they may be causing.

Denton County Friends of the Family is dedicated to providing compassionate, comprehensive services to those impacted by rape, sexual abuse, or domestic violence while partnering with our community to promote safety, hope, healing, prevention, and justice.

If you or someone you know needs help connect with our 24-Hour Crisis Line at 940-382-7273 or 800-572-4031.

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What is Rape Culture?

Posted on August 2, 2018

Rape culture is something that is not often defined in our society on a regular basis, although it is subtly prevalent in everyday conversation, ideas, and media. For such an important issue, people generally have little knowledge about it or seek resources for more information.  

Rape culture is defined as a society or environment whose social attitudes tend to trivialize and normalize sexual assault and abuse. In other words, rape culture makes abuse and sexual violence against women appear "normal" or something that "can't be helped." This poisonous ideology stems from centuries of objectification, oppression, and the unequal treatment of women.  

Although modern society has made significant steps to help end rape culture, such as the #metoo movement that began in 2017, rape culture is still an issue that affects the lives of most, if not all, women at some point in their lives.  

So what are some examples of rape culture? This can range from the act of rape itself to someone catcalling a woman on the street. Although some actions, such as rape and abuse, are definitely more explicit and overt, every aspect of rape culture plays into the idea that women are objects, here to cater to men at any capacity. Some other examples of rape culture include: 

  • Blaming the victim: (i.e."She was asking for it") 

No matter what the circumstance, the victim is not at fault. Abuse or assault is always a choice that the perpetrator of violence makes to exert power and control over another person, and the responsibility lies with them.  

  • Asking victims the wrong questions: (i.e. "What were you wearing", "She shouldn't have been wearing that", etc.)  

This is the idea that she was wearing something that impacted being raped or assaulted when in reality we know that the way a person looks does not cause rape. Rape is not about sex or attractiveness. Rape is a crime committed to obtain power and control over another person, and sex is the weapon that the rapist uses to do that. 

Teen Vogue displayed a photo series highlighting what women were wearing when they were raped and we really thought this put the concept into a visual perspective. You can check out that gallery here.

  • Teaching women how to "not get raped" instead of teaching men not to rape 

We're not knocking a good self-defense class, by all means go for it. But for that to be the solution or the conversation that is had in regards to sexual assault, goes back to perpetuating this idea that it is the victim's responsibility to defend themselves versus the perpetrator's responsibility to not rape. 

  • Not holding boys and men accountable for their actions, (i.e. "boys will be boys")  

We liked what writer Hannah Robinson from The Breeze said "Boys will be boys as long as we continue to aid appalling behavior — reducing violating acts to a cliché remark flippantly made at playgrounds and courtrooms. Boys will be boys as long as we continue turning our cheeks to microaggressions and sexist remarks, instead of refusing to tolerate inappropriate behavior so deeply entrenched in our psyche that it feels normal. In order for encounters like the one that happened to 'Grace' to be prevented, we must teach boys what’s right, just as we must teach young girls to speak up when something feels wrong." 

  • Not taking rape accusations seriously or not believing victims (We believe you!!)
  • Tolerance of sexual harassment in the workplace  

Going one step further, having a policy in place that addresses sexual harassment/assault but also offering training on what to do. Our Prevention, Education, and Awareness Team educates over 23,000 students, businesses, and community members annually. We invite you to learn more about hosting a training or education program at your business or organization. Submit a request here. 

  • Assuming only promiscuous women get raped when in reality, anyone can be raped including men 

FACT: Sexual assault is motivated by hostility, power and control. Sexual assaults are not motivated by sexual desire. Learn more from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

  • Gender Stereotyping  

Defining masculinity as being dominant and sexually aggressive or defining femininity as being submissive, passive, and weak. We’re fans of the #LikeAGirl ad from Always. This is crushing that "run like a girl" stereotype one ad at a time.  

  • Using vulgar language and jokes that degrade women, (i.e. "locker room banter") 

Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language. This type of language not only degrades women but leads to dehumanization and desensitizing the issue and the epidemic of violence against women that is occurring every day. In fact, 2 in 5 women in Texas are victims of sexual assault (Texas Council on Family Violence).  

Many of these elements can be observed in everyday life whether in the news, movies, television shows, music, work, friends or overheard conversations. In order to fight back against rape culture, individuals should always speak out if they witness any aspect of rape culture, whether it is a sexist joke or sexual harassment. By raising awareness about what constitutes as rape culture, real change can be achieved. As a society, we can redefine what it means to be masculine and feminine and decide what behaviors will be permitted and what will not. With the help of many, we can create a safer, more equal, and more loving world for future generations.  

Denton County Friends of the Family is dedicated to providing 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 or has questions connect with our 24-Hour Crisis Line at 940-382-7273 or 800-572-4031.
 

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Full Circle of Service

Posted on July 24, 2018

Full Circle of Service

Amber Birmingham

Owner of Just Between Friends Denton County &  DCFOF Women's Auxiliary Member

What we see so often at Friends of the Family, is the community's willingness to lend a hand to the people around us that need it most. We have the opportunity to connect with the most generous people, who choose to spend their time, talent, and treasure helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault get back on their feet. Some of the most inspiring people we have met have been the people who are paying it forward from a time that the community helped them; someone helped with their bills, or an agency gave them free counseling, or they were able to provide for their family because of organizations like JBF. The list goes on. But now that they are in a position to give back they choose to do so, and to pay that generosity forward. This cycle is what our guest blog author, Amber Birmingham, has called the "Full Circle of Service." 

Amber's Story: 

"While I was pregnant with my first child I read tons of parenting books on how to find the best deals for your baby.  One I came across mentioned Just Between Friends (JBF), a children’s consignment event located all over the United States where you can save 50-90% off retail on kid, baby & maternity items.  In most cases they are owned by local moms who want to offer a clean, safe environment for other local families to make money by selling their children’s items and who save big when shopping for their kids saving  50-90% off retail.  

I was hooked, I love a good bargain!  What I didn’t realize before I became a Consingor myself, selling my gently used kids clothes, shoes, books & toys, was the full circle of service JBF provides for the community.  At the end of every sale Consignors can choose to donate their items to a local charity.   

In 2016, my family moved to Denton County and the local JBF franchise was on the market.  I did not hesitate to buy because I believe in all that it offers for our community.  I am proud to say that our charity partner, Denton County Friends of the Family, is one of the reasons why I purchased this franchise.  Last year, through Just Between Friends Denton County, families donated over 5,000 items to DCFOF with a value of over $25,000.   

The circle does not stop there, the items donated are sold at the DCFOF Thrift Store, raising money for the programs that DCFOF offers to our community, helping women and children who are victims of domestic violence get in a safe independent environment. Often those families come back to Just Between Friends as shoppers and even consignors and the circle starts again." 

Thank you Amber for your dedication to our community! 

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Raise Your Voice

Posted on July 20, 2018

Raise Your Voice 

By Natalie Pixler 

Winner of Rotary 4 Way Speech Contest 

In my house, I am famous for oversleeping. It is that darn snooze button. I know perfectly well that hitting the snooze button is a dangerous game, and yet I continuously play it. I’m just too groggy to care.  

In my near-comatose condition there is no way of knowing whether I will awaken in five minutes or five hours. When I finally come fully, frantically awake — well, you can imagine how it goes:  

Looking at the clock realizing my first period has already begun. Fear and panic shoot through my body like electricity. I hurl the duvet across the room and lunge out of bed like a bottle rocket fired from a tipped-over cannon.  

Frantically, willing time to stand still while lecturing myself on the importance of my education, I arrive at school with hair in disarray, shirt inside out, toothpaste running down my cheek and still hoarse from screaming at the drivers who would dare to drive the speed limit.  

All of this chaos for a few extra minutes of sleep.  

For me, when I hit the snooze button, I am simply late for school. But as a culture, we are hitting the snooze button on something much more serious. As I see it, we are hitting the snooze button on the continued oppression of women around the world.  

Let me explain. 

First, we are actively fighting for the end of sexual assault. One in four women will be sexually assaulted before the age of eighteen. Every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Out of every 1,000 rapes only six perpetrators are charged, arrested and incarcerated. Post-traumatic stress disorder is prevalent among survivors with 94% diagnosed.  

Second, there is the problem of human trafficking. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today. According the the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female. The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than any other state in the U.S. Globally, the cost of a slave is $90. It generates a profit of $32 billion every year.  

Third, female genital mutilation (FGM) is still practiced in twenty-nine countries. The World Health Organization estimates that over 140 million women have been mutilated, some as young as five months old. These barbaric acts must be stopped.  

 As we consider the masses of women suffering oppression, we often lose sight of the stark reality. The numbers overwhelm us, and, therefore, the women become just that — numbers. However, the oppression becomes real to us when we listen to the stories of those who have suffered abuse. The stories humanize the faceless “numbers.”   

Karla Jacinto was just a number. She was sold and trafficked through Mexico at the tender age of twelve. She was raped 43,200 times by thirty men a day. There were hundreds of girls there alongside her, some as young as ten. She emerged from her own personal hell with a powerful message to those happily and obliviously free: “Take the blindfold off of your eyes.”  

And the stories go on and on. We could tell of countless others just like Karla. And hearing stories like this should compel us to take immediate and relentless action.  

So what are the steps for action?  

Simply this: Give. Volunteer. But most of all, raise your voice.  

You have a voice, so use it for the ones who don’t. Use your voice to shine a piercing light that shatters the darkness. Darkness prevails in our communities because we have not demanded change. It’s time to speak for the girl cowering in a brothel, hiding in shame and running for her life. The girl chained to a wall, forced to do unimaginable things with no hope of every walking free again. We must speak up for the abused, battered and voiceless. These are the women for whom we speak.  

Do you see the need? Do you feel the outrage? I hope you do. And I hope now, after realizing the astronomical numbers and putting a face to each number, you will now make an informed decision to stand up and speak. As Malala, a girls’ education activist, once said,  

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”  

You have that one voice. And your one voice is powerful enough to change the world. Stop hitting the snooze button. The alarm is sounding, and its time to wake up. 

Natalie Pixler 

Winner of the Rotary 4 Way Speech Contest 

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Welcome Stephanie!

Posted on July 18, 2018

Meet Stephanie,  our new Community Resource Coordinator at DCFOF! She is your go to for all things volunteer or in-kind/item donations for clients. When it comes to back to school, Thanksgiving or holiday needs Stephanie will help make it happen for our families.  

Stephanie is a Dentonite through and through! She was raised in Denton and graduated from Ryan High School in 2008. She then attended UNT where she received a BA in History in 2012. Stephanie has a diverse background including working as an administrative assistant and as an au pair in New Zealand. Her passion for serving the community is one of the reasons she was drawn to Friends of the Family. Stephanie was an active member in her church and participated in numerous mission trips. After graduating, Stephanie kept her heart for service by donating items to various charities every year. 

When asked about what she's most looking forward to at Friends of the Family, Stephanie says, "I'm looking forward to the community connections, getting to know our volunteers and interns, as well as getting more active within the community."  

Stephanie's favorite spot in Denton is the Square, and when she's not working, you can find her making pottery, photographing people and places, and enjoying time with her friends.  Stephanie's favorite quote is one she wrote herself, "The World is Home." 

"This is my own quote. I came up with it while I was living in New Zealand, far from Denton, and feeling detached from my normal," Stephanie said.  "All of a sudden I no longer felt like I was halfway around the world; I felt at home, and ever since then, every place I have been to, I remind myself that I am on this planet and it is home."  

Welcome aboard, Stephanie! DCFOF is glad to have you!  

We are in the midst of our Back to School drive and looking for volunteers as well as community members to help donate school supplies. To learn more about getting involved visit dcfof.org/backtoschool or connect with Stephanie by emailing volunteer@dcfof.org.

Denton County Friends of the Family is dedicated to providing 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.

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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