DV and SA In the LGBTQ Community: Sexual Orientation

Posted on June 27, 2019

DV and SA In the LGBTQ Community: Sexual Orientation

As we wrap up Pride Month at DCFOF we want to share this wonderful blog post from one of our own- Housing Navigator Victoria Schofield!

In honor of Pride Month, it is important to discuss the violence experienced by LGBTQ individuals, as well as the continued resilience of the community. This blog focuses on the intersection of sexual orientation and domestic/sexual violence. I will be writing a follow up post in the coming weeks that focuses on gender identity, the LGBTQ community, and the intersection of Domestic Violence (DV) and Sexual Assault (SA). 

The LGBTQ community is at a high risk of experiencing violence both within the home and within their personal relationships as they are on a systemic level. The intersection of other identities (race, class, education level, citizenship, gender, sex, etc.) can make people more vulnerable to violence.  Statistics show that DV in same-sex relationships is comparable to the violence that exists in heterosexual relationships. Women in same sex relationships, or who identify as lesbian or bisexual, are 3x more likely to experience SA in their lifetime. Bisexual women, according to CDC reports, have higher rates of stalking, physical assault, and rape than their LGBTQ counterparts. 26% of gay men and 37.5% of bisexual men have experienced violence at the hands of a partner. These statistics are incredibly powerful, but there is also a brash of underreporting in this community. This is in part because of common misconceptions and biases towards same sex couples, such as the idea that women cannot be perpetrators of sexual violence, or women are not the perpetrators of DV. When it comes to same sex relationships with men, there is a stigma around male SA victims, which compounded with discrimination against gay and bisexual men, can create hesitation to report.  Socially, violence against men is often minimized, which can deter men from reporting or seeking support. 

This population has unique barriers to accessing safety as well. Many abusers will threaten their partners with revealing their sexual orientation and relationship status (outing someone) to significant parties in their life, whether it is their family, their faith community, their landlords, or their employers. It is still legal in several states to deny someone housing or to terminate an employee based on their sexual orientation. In this way, they are not only removing their partner’s safety, comfort, and agency, but threatening their livelihoods. When attempting to seek help, folks from this community often fear discrimination and judgment from agency staff, from other clients, and from law enforcement. Many are afraid to call law enforcement out of fear of being believed, not being taken seriously, or fear of being held equally responsible for the incident.  Some states, such as Montana and North Carolina, will not grant protection orders for same sex couples. While Texas is not among the list of states to do this, our clients who flee from these states might be coming without that protection. 

These obstacles are compounded by systemic oppression faced on a societal level. Several states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Idaho, do not protect a person from termination of employment on assumed sexual orientation. There are no current legal protections in Texas for individuals facing discrimination from health insurance companies. There are states where it is legal to bar people services on the groups of their sexual orientation; some states are working on creating laws for this allowance. This creates a fear among the community when it comes to accessing services. It is also worth considering the cultural barriers within the community, such as a concern that revealing DV in a relationship will further feelings of animosity or de-legitimize same-sex relationships. Toxic masculinity has a part to play in same sex relationships with men as well as in women. Gender dynamics have a role to play in same sex relationships, too, such as the belief that in a same sex relationship with two women, one must be “the man” and must adhere to relationship roles and behaviors that are traditionally coded in the U.S, as masculine. Women who present in ways which are coded as “masculine” by social standards will often use their identity as a woman to de-legitimize the violence perpetuated in relationships. There is a resistance to identify males as victims of DV, which often results in male client’s being unable to identify themselves as such.  Members of the LGBTQ community face higher rates of mental health concerns, substance use, and engagement in sex work, which can lead to higher rates of violence perpetuated against them, homelessness, and suicide. Because there is less representation for this community, it is difficult for them to visualize healthy relationship dynamics. 

As service providers, it is vital that we consider how we are reaching out and serving this population. Changes on both a personal level, as well as an agency-wide level, can make a substantial impact on creating an environment of inclusion for LGBTQ clients. Below I have offered some suggestions for reflection. 

  • Consider the language you use to describe the dynamics of DV and SA. Use language that is inclusive of same sex couples and avoid language that reinforces heteronormative dynamics when speaking about the issue. (Such as he=perpetrator and she=victim, focuses primarily on married couples, etc.). Work to make space for family dynamics that are not nuclear or traditional. Many LGBTQ communities have families that are not blood related, and it is important to acknowledge the significance of these support systems. 
  • Look at the way your organization presents itself to the public; the name of your agency, the marketing you use, social media, etc. Ask if it conveys the message that everyone and anyone is safe there. Include LGBTQ specific statistics, research, imagery, and discussions in your training and outreach. If you have any LGBTQ-focused agencies in your service area, your region, or your state, partner with them! Allow people from these communities to lead trainings or be part of the work in other ways. 
  • Be mindful of how you create space within your agency for your LGBTQ employees and volunteers. What are your policies around discrimination, harassment, and leave? Do you use inclusive language when you talk to your coworkers whose personal lives you do not know? Be willing to change and be flexible to new information. 
  • Include LGBTQ issues in your outreach. When significant events in the LGBTQ community occur, such as DV/SA related news stories, acknowledge them. 
  • Consider how you speak to clients about their relationships. Use open-ended questions and ask them to describe the dynamics of the relationship. Clarify and mirror their language.  Acknowledge their identity and how it compounds the violence they have experienced. Ask if there are any issues that they are facing that aren’t included in your case management so far. Be mindful of the resources you are suggesting to a client. 

Victoria Schofield

DCFOF Housing Navigator

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Celebrating Freedom and Independence on Juneteenth and Every Day

Posted on June 19, 2019

Celebrating Freedom and Independence on Juneteenth and Every Day 

June 19, better known as “Juneteenth,” is the official commemorative celebration of the ending of slavery in Texas. In 1865, Union Major-General Gordon Grander read aloud General Order Number 3 in Galveston, Texas. Two and a half years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and after the ending of the Civil War, the state of Texas had finally received news of the abolition of slavery in the United States. Though the reading of the proclamation brought great relief to those who heard the news, many enslavers in Texas and throughout the south did not free enslaved people immediately and forced them to continue working illegally. The abolition of slavery was not an overnight liberation. 

In the United States today, 46 of the 50 states recognize Juneteenth or “Emancipation Day” as an American holiday. Primarily celebrated by African Americans across the country, Juneteenth’s roots began in Texas. In 1872, a group of former enslaved people came together to purchase land in modern-day Houston, which they named Emancipation Park. They purchased Emancipation Park for the sole purpose of having a location dedicated to the celebration of Juneteenth every year, and the park still stands today. 

Juneteenth celebrations today consist of community-wide festivals, parades, cookouts, ceremonies, public speakers, pageants, and more. Dubbed “The Black Independence Day”, June 19th and the weekends surrounding it are always an exciting time for the African American community to celebrate hope, continued independence, and freedom in the United States. Many black communities come together during this time to celebrate those who have paved the way in the past, and those who are paving the way for the future. This is a great way for families and children to see all the progress that has been made over the years, and that there are people who continue to promote positive, effective, change in the African American community every day. 

In the spirit of Juneteenth, here at Denton County Friends of the Family we continue to promote and celebrate independence and freedom amongst our clients every day. Providing compassionate, comprehensive services to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, we continue to work with the community to promote safety, hope, healing, justice and prevention. 

Here at Friends of the Family the Our Community Matters Program, OCM, is focused on engaging the African American community and bringing increased awareness to the resources available for victims of domestic violence.  Statistically, African American women are 35% more likely to experience domestic violence than women of other races. Cassandra Berry is the coordinator of the Our Community Matters program at Friends of the Family. Want to learn more about the OCM program? Check it out at dcfof.org/ocm

Thank you to our guest blogger:
-DeAundra Moore 
Transitional Housing Intern 

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 is in need of support and resources please connect with our 24-Hour Crisis Line at 800-572-4031

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An EVENTful Weekend

Posted on June 12, 2019

An EVENT-ful Weekend

JEWELS FOR JUSTICE & DRIVE FOR AWARENESS SUCCESS!

This past weekend was full of fun with two events for DCFOF- Jewels for Justice and Drive for Awareness.

Jewels for Justice

PHOTO ALBUM

The third annual Jewels for Justice was hosted at the lovely home of Charla Bradshaw, and presented by Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers. This fun and unique event is a Kendra Scott pop up trunk show- just think of browsing through glimmering necklaces and earrings, while sipping on your mimosa and snacking on delicious food. Charla's gorgeous saloon was packed with about 100 people coming out to support the event! Charla did an absolutely fabulous job decking out the place with beautiful centerpieces, linens, and all the little details that really make an event shine. The jewelry was beautiful and the food was PHENOMENAL.

Thank you so much to Catering by Chef Mark, Hannah's, The Chestnut Tree, and Applejacks for being our catering sponsors and going all out on a scrumptious meal! It was a day of music, food, fun, and friendship- not to mention jewels! Jewels for Justice is our Women's Auxiliary's biggest event of the year and we could not be happier with the success. It's too early to tell how much we made off of jewelry sales- stay tuned for our final number!

Check out our photo album HERE and learn more about our Women's Auxiliary HERE.

Drive for Awareness

PHOTO ALBUM

Drive for Awareness, presented by Elite Financing Group, was a very different event than we typically host and in a GREAT way. Instead of being planned by an adult (or group of adults), Drive for Awareness was planned by a middle schooler named Abbi Deaderick. Abbi's passion for helping other kiddos stems from her own experience with Denton County Friends of the Family years ago.

In Abbi's own words, "When I was younger, my mother and I received services from Friends of the Family! We lived in the shelter for 6 weeks and while there, I was able to go through play therapy and since then I have really focused on golf! I started playing in Kindergarten and this game has given so much to me! Along with golf, I participate in “National American Miss” which in return has helped me gain confidence and has helped me gain many other skills such as using my voice to help advocate for others! 

A few months ago, I came up with the idea to host a family golf scramble where other youth golfers can have the opportunity to play this amazing game as well as raise money to help other kids! All of you here today have helped my idea turn into a reality and become a huge success! Every year, 15 million children are exposed to domestic violence in their homes. The impacts of this can be long-lasting. But thanks to agencies like Friends of the Family kids have an opportunity to access services that contribute to their hope and healing. All of our efforts today will go right into helping those kids!!"


Abbi's vision came to life with an amazing golf scramble. About 40 people came out to enjoy a beautiful day of golfing, great food, and a program with prizes. With the help of her community, Abbi raised over $3,000 for DCFOF! Wow!! We are so grateful to both Abbi and her parents, Rachelle & Torrey Pinkerton, for all of their hard work on this event. This just goes to show that even a small person can have a loud voice and advocate for other kids in need. Thank you Abbi!

Check out the photo album HERE.

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Summer Time At Shelter

Posted on June 5, 2019

It’s officially summer! While most families are out enjoying the summer sun, vacationing at the beach, traveling, or going to summer camp, things can look a little different for our families at shelter.  

While the kids are out of school, they spend a lot of time in the Shelter. If they are not playing outside on the playground, you can find them inside in the playroom or watching television in the living room. The kids are also allowed to use the computers to watch youtube videos or play online games. At the same time, Shelter staff and the mom’s staying there with their children do not want the kids spending all their time stuck on a screen.  For this reason, Shelter provides them with family-friendly movies to watch, board games, reading, and arts and craft supplies for when they are feeling creative. Luckily our Male Mentor also makes a monthly calendar with planned activities for the children to participate in. He tries to make it inclusive for kids of all ages, such as playing volleyball, baking, or making slime. During the summer, Shelter staff also tries to have at least two planned field trips a month, the most recent being to the UNT Planetarium.  

Being in a place that isn’t your home for an extended time period during the summer months can be challenging for the kids at shelter, simply because it is a different environment. Our dedicated staff does their utmost to provide an active, well-rounded summer, full of positive activities in a safe environment. Our Shelter, which is at an undisclosed location for the safety of our clients and their children, is dedicated to making a temporary stay feel like a home away from home for our clients.  And that is the key to healing for families in crisis. Keeping active can be an emotional support for the children as well, as they know they have a safe place to be, where they can have fun, and be at ease.  

If you would like to donate summer activities, games, or books for the kiddos at shelter, you can visit our Amazon Smile wishlist via the link below.  If you would like to bring in items to donate, you can bring them to our Outreach Office located at: 4845 S. I-35 East | Corinth, TX 76210

If you have any questions, you can e-mail our donation coordinator.

Amazon Smile

Activity List

Crisis Line: Available 24/7 @ 940-382-7273 | 800-572-4031

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Back to Basics- What We Do

Posted on May 29, 2019

There's always something going on over here at our agency whether it's events, drives or volunteer gigs we've got a ton of opportunities for the community to give back, and boy does our community give back (THANK YOU!). We want to take a minute to just go back to the basics of what it's all about - how we help. 

OUR MISSION

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.

Everything we do on a daily basis goes back to our mission. We have a rockstar team making things happen every day. You can learn more about a few of the key players on our staff page or board page

HOW WE HELP

The resources available for victims of sexual and domestic violence are completely free and confidential. You can learn more about the various ways we help by checking out the "GET HELP" tab on our website. The snapshot below gives you a quick look into the services available including - shelter, transitional housing, counseling, play therapy and legal services. 

If you or someone you know would like to connect for services please call our 24-hour crisis line at 800-572-4031 or front desk at 940-387-5131. You can call just to ask questions and learn about resources or setup an intake appointment. 

HOW IT WORKS

When someone is ready to learn more about the resources available for them they can call our front desk at 940-387-5131 and schedule an intake appointment.

The sole purpose of this appointment is to learn more about their goals, assess their safety and how we can help. As far as the steps they take next... it is completely their decision. There is no obligation for them to access the services- it is their choice. We just ensure we are there to help them break down any barriers that may be getting in the way of accomplishing their goals and staying safe. We are here to support them.

It looks different for every client but the thing to remember is that help is available! If you or someone you know is the victim of sexual or domestic violence send them to Friends of the Family. We are the experts and we can help! 

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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

Prospect

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