The new year is here and it's time for a change! As we all scurry off to the gym and tell ourselves (over and over again) that we won't have that extra cookie anymore, or will only shop organic from now on, change is on our minds and we all are trying to be our best selves. Nothing is better for the soul than giving back! Here are some ways that you can get involved with DCFOF in 2019 and make a big impact.
Volunteers are the key to our success as an agency. We could not do all that we do for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in our community without our awesome volunteers! If you have not been involved in nonprofits before volunteering is a great way to start. From assisting with our food pantry, to handing out gifts at the holidays, to playing with the kiddos at the shelter, every volunteer gives their time and compassion to make the world a little brighter for those that need it most. "We have volunteer opportunities in every department at our agency," says Stephanie Honeycutt, Community Resource Coordinator. "Tell us where your mission interest is and we can help you find your perfect passion project for giving back!"
Don't have a lot of extra time but want to make an impact on someone's life? Monthly donations to our agency are a great way to bring about positive change in our community! All donations go right back into our programs for victims of sexual and domestic violence such as: emergency shelter, counseling, play therapy, advocacy, legal services, transitional housing, and community education. Even just $10 a month to go toward something like gas gift cards for our clients makes a big difference for the families that we serve.
Here's something you need to know to advocate for the clients we serve- abuse is a choice. A choice the perpetrator or abuser makes. They make a choice to physically, emotionally, psychologically, or sexually harm the other person. Enabling behavior often echoes stories about how the abuser can't help it or something happened (whatever the story is) and that's why the abuser hurt the victim. At the end of the day abuse is not a cause and effect concept, it is a choice. Ask yourself this- why can someone go to a job they hate with coworkers they cannot stand and a demanding boss, and not harm their co-workers or boss, but then comes home and reacts completely differently around their partner? Because this is a choice they make. They actively choose not to hit their boss in the same way they actively choose to hit their partner.
So domestic violence 101 question of the day- what is the cause of abuse? Choice. Now, there are certainly variables that impact safety concerns or risks and our team of advocates are trained to help navigate these with victims/survivors. But at the end of the day blaming the victim in anyway is part of the problem not part of the solution.
So that brings us to our tips on how YOU can be the best advocate you can be in 2019.
1. Don't Judge Her
It is not your job to tell her what to do or try to understand the reasoning behind her decisions or actions. First of all, you can't make reason out of something that doesn't really make sense to begin with. To put it simply, someone that she loves is hurting her, that alone does not make sense. We often hear people asking why a woman doesn't just leave an abusive situation. There are many barriers to leaving. You can read a more comprehensive list of barriers to leaving an abusive relationship in this past blog postbut for now let's just talk about one: her safety. The most dangerous time for a victim of violence is when she is trying to leave her abuser. The Honoring the Texas Victims Report, distributed annually by the Texas Council on Family Violence, is one place we see this safety risk come to life. In 2017, 136 women were killed by their intimate partners.
2. Connect Her With Friends of the Family
At Friends of the Family our team of experts provide compassionate, comprehensive services to those impacted by rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence, while partnering with the community to promote safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention. If ANYONE, child or adult, is currently experiencing sexual and domestic violence or has experienced this in the past, we can be a resource! You can provide them with our 24-Crisis Line number, 800-572-4031. They can call this line anonymously and have questions answered or talk through some options with our team of trained crisis line professionals. In addition, someone can call our Outreach Office at 940-387-5131 to schedule an appointment in order to meet with one of our staff members and learn about the services available to them and their family. We are the sole provider of comprehensive services throughout the entire County of Denton. We are the local experts and can help connect your family, friends, neighbors and loved ones to the right resources to help them access safety.
You may not understand all that goes on behind closed doors, but you can know how to help someone if they are brave enough to come and share those stories of fear, anxiety, and abuse.You are not there to tell them what to do, you are there to empathize and give them resources. Listen, don’t judge and direct them to our agency! This is how you can be the best advocate that you can be in 2019.
Our team at Denton County Friends of the Family is here for our community, ready to help victims/survivors access safety and navigate the road to hope.
What Services Are Available at Friends of the Family
At Friends of the Family we provide access to comprehensive services. More information about the type of services available can be accessed through our website under our Get Help section or by calling our Outreach Office at 940-387-5131. Services available include:
Individual and Group Counseling
Play Therapy for Children
Activity Therapy for Adolescents
And more, based upon the needs of the client...
Thank you for investing in safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention for victims of sexual and domestic violence.
It's time to deck the halls and pull out the garland! With The Holiday Express come and gone and Adopt A Family in full swing, here at DCFOF we are helping spread the holiday spirit!
The Holiday Express
The Holiday Express was fantastic! We had about 600 people come out throughout the day and hop on the holiday-themed train ride between Elf's Playland and the North Pole. From Christmas tree waffles, to pictures with Santa, to cookie decorating there was fun for the whole family. After being serenaded by Christmas carols ( Thank you Vocal Magic!) families hopped on the DCTA A-train for a fun musical number by Musical Theatre Denton. Upon arrival at Elf's Playland they were greeted with music, a bounce house, delicious coffee and hot cocoa, and fun kids activities!
After a second, and equally exciting musical number, families headed over to the North Pole. Not only was Santa waiting for them, but there was even a real life "reindeer" out front! A delicious brunch, fun activities, music, and a beautiful silent auction was waiting for them inside. It was a blast full of holiday cheer!
Check out this great write up from the Denton Record-Chronicle.
Adopt A Family is in full swing and guess what- we adopted out 700 kids this year! Wow! That is almost double the number of kiddos that we served in this drive last year. We are so humbled and grateful for all of the community members that have come through for our clients this week and brought in their gifts. Our halls are packed with Barbies, Paw Patrol, sweaters, games, and more! The holidays can be a tough time for the people that we serve given the troubles they may have at home. It means so much to all of us to have our community come through for them and bring some joy to their holiday!
We still need volunteers! If you are an active volunteer and want to help out this week with Adopt a Family please email Stephanie at email@example.com.
Nicole has been with Denton County Friends of the Family for two and a half years and is a member of the Prevention, Education, and Awareness Program team, working as a Community Educator/Community Education Specialist.
What is your favorite thing about working at DCFOF? My favorite thing about working here is my ability to make a difference in the lives of individuals and the community as a whole.
What is the most memorable presentation you have given? Why? I was teaching a class of kids when the topic of bullying came up. One student asked a question and it helped me realize that bullying functions ina lot of the same ways that abuse does. Whether it's bullying or abuse, they're both about having power and control over another person. It helped me to better understand how I can explain abuse when I'm talking with others. It had such a great impact on my understanding and I really appreciate the presentations where an audience member says or does something that allows me to learn!
Why do you DVAM? Domestic violence impacts millions of people, so it's a widespread problem that is not often discussed. However, domestic violence is happening in every comunity. Awareness helps save lives and gets people connected to services quicker. There are a lot of misconceptions about what domestic violence means, especially because when we do see if depicted or labeled by the media as domestic violence, it's generally referring to physical or sexual violence. We often overlook emotional and verbal violence, so people who are being victimized in those ways may not know that what they are experiencing is abuse or that there are services available to them for help. I often hear from survivors that they wish they knew about DCFOF sooner. I want to change that.
What are some things that you do during DVAM to educate, advocate, & spread awareness? In my role at DCFOF, I make sure I mention that DVAM is in October. I tell people about the Honoring Texas Victim Report and try to help my audience understand how widespread domestic violencec is. We also host several DVAM events each year. We try to create a variety of events throughout the month to get people involved and spread awareness. Personally, I try to wear a lot of purple! I've painted my nails and even dyed parts of my hair purple previous years. When or if someone comments on my purple, I make sure to mention it's for DVAM. Social media is also a great way to share information about DVAM. Octover is a busy month, so I make sure to tell friends and family that I'm so busy because it's DVAM.
What is a fun fact about you? In high school, I designed and made costumes for our theatre department. I also did some acting, but I'm much better at the costume design!
Hi! I’m Stephanie, the Community Resource Coordinator here at Denton County Friends of the Family. I had the opportunity to work with many of you on our Back to School backpack drive. The outpouring of love and support from the community that I experienced really made an impact on me and I witnessed the impact it had on our clients too. We are so grateful!
Now we head into the season of giving thanks. It’s a time to be thankful for all that we have, a time to gather and be with family. Thanksgiving is more than just eating a meal. It is a time to regroup with our family and enjoy each other’s company. The holidays for many of our clients can be a difficult time of year as they recover from trauma and financial abuse. For some, this may be the first time in a long time they have felt safe and are living without fear. The Thanksgiving drive is just one of the many ways we work to be a resource and support for our clients during the holidays.
Every year, we hold the Thanksgiving drive to help take a small burden off of mom and help provide some of the essentials for a fantastic holiday meal. We have created an extensive list of Thanksgiving meal staples alongside food that would extend past our day of thanks. One key item on our list is a $10 gift card to either Kroger or Walmart.
Picture with me, the traditional Thanksgiving meal. What is the focal point? The steaming turkey or ham, surrounded by scrumptious veggies, and delicious pie. Since turkeys and ham are perishable, and not everyone eats meat, we ask that you give a $10 gift card to allow our families a choice in what protein they put on their table. A large component of abuse is the power and control the abuser holds over their victim through finances and sustenance. Having a choice in the protein they can put on their dinner table is just a small way we can empower their individuality!
3. Bring your collected goods to our Outreach Office located at 4845 S. I-35 East Corinth, TX 76210.
Know that you are helping us feed over 600 people. Know that you are providing more than just a meal. You are providing family time. You are providing one less worry. You are providing hope, which is one of our founding pillars. You are providing healing for families that have been broken by trauma. And that is worth so much more.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for your support by donating non-perishable food, canned goods and a $10 gift card. Thank you for investing in safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention for women and children who are victims of sexual and domestic violence.
*Trigger Warning: Depictions of Domestic Violence*
During this Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we have brought attention to statistics and resources relating to domestic violence and invited the community to help us achieve change together. Now is the hard part: to convey the true depth of fear, suffering, and pain that a survivor may experience. It is always a difficult decision to know how much to share with the community. Will showing too much vulnerability make it harder for people to connect with our clients? Will keeping things in a positive spin, even when nothing may feel positive to some of the people we serve, make our supporters more likely to come back and stay involved?
But here is the real, honest, blunt truth: domestic violence is a scary, painful, big deal.
No one knows that more than survivor Ruth Gamble. As a child, she experienced violence at the hand of her father, and witnessed him abuse her mother on multiple occasions. He did not just hit them, what he did can be described as physical and psychological torture. He did things like force her mother to lick the floor “so that she would know there was nothing lower than she was”, beat her and the children with a hammer, burn them with fire from candles, and force the children to beat their own mother. Ultimately, her mother survived only by shooting her husband dead, in what the State ruled a Justifiable Homicide. This is her story.
“Speak out, cry out, get away, do not suffer silently at the hand of domestic violence abusers.
My family suffered silently for13 years at the mercy of our sadistic abuser, our father, in our time there were few if any options to source help. People looked the other way and didn't get involved. Mother once went to the local church we attended to seek help but was told the Church didn't get involved in family issues.
Thankfully, now there are so many great resources like Denton County Friends of Family to assist in getting free from the grip of domestic abuse. Unfortunately, many people still look the other way. Relatives and friends won’t acknowledge the person they love is an abuser.
Our nightmare ended when in self-defense Mother shot and killed our abuser, an act that haunted her until the day she died. There could have been a different outcome if there had been resources to assist in breaking the domestic violence syndrome, and different societal attitudes about a woman's rights and what are no longer a man's right.
Mother did find the courage to leave him once and made the mistake of letting him talk her into returning. Father had often told her should she ever leave he would kill the entire family, and that was in the back of her mind and gave her cause for thought. That day on the phone, he was so sincere in his promises to never hurt us again that she went back. He then tied her to a chair and beat her while we were made to watch. Warning, if a victim leaves, do not go back without proper resources, a safety plan, professional help and guidance, and a lot of commitment by the abuser in getting better. Statistically, abusers are unlikely to change their choices and behavior without intervention (see the DCFOF BIPP program for resources). Whether or not the abuser makes the choice to change, the victim’s life is often changed forever.
There is no way to describe this insane way of life, enduring the degradation of being abused physically and mentally by the person you once most trusted. Victims are often not able to explain or really to understand why they don't leave- be it financial, fear, or the misguided belief that the abuser will change. Because after all- they say they love you. It's difficult to understand a person so badly emotionally damaged that the promise of love is reason enough to stay, and to believe the abuse will stop, even when you are that person.
If you know someone that's caught in this vicious web don't judge- because few can understand the insanity, the reason for silence, the fear and repercussions of breaking out on one’s own. Instead of judging, help people become aware of domestic violence, that there is help, and that domestic violence won't be tolerated in today's society. This is the key.
Get involved, volunteer, donate, educate yourself: these are the actions that will change the world for those current victims, future survivors and ultimate “thrivers”.
My family and I went on to ultimately thrive, though there were many bends in the road from then until now. As I grow older, it becomes more important that our experience be of value in helping someone that is caught in the desperate life of domestic violence.”
-Ruth Gamble & Siblings
Thank you to Ruth Gamble and her siblings for sharing their story.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the DCFOF 24-Hour Crisis Line at 940-382-7273 or 800-572-4031.
If you would like more information about the resources offered to victims/survivors at DCFOF, learn more at dcfof.org.
If you have made the choice to abuse your partner and are looking for resources to change your behavior, we can help. Learn more about the DCFOF Battering Intervention and Prevention Program at dcfof.org/batteringintervention.
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.
Silent Witness: Remember My Story, Remember My Name
1 in 4.
Denton County Friends of the Family is dedicated to honoring the 1 in 4 women who are victims of domestic violence.
In 1990, the Silent Witness Initiative was established. What was once a small project is now an international tribute to those who have lost their lives due to domestic violence. Silent Witnesses take the form of red silhouettes, each telling the story of a woman who has tragically lost her life. It is the hope that women may become healers and help other victims while also finding hope for themselves, others, and perpetrators.
"The Silent Witnesses started to take on a life of their own. People involved with the project came to experience the figures reverentially. The murdered women became real to them, their spirits touching them. When they carried them from trucks to exhibit spaces, they felt like they were carrying their stories. Whey they "hugged" them in order to fit them into their stands, they were reminded of how much love each of them needed. They had come alive for them. But they were all dead. And that is the reason for this project. "- The Silent Witness National Initiative
This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Denton County Friends of the Family organized a candlelight vigil to honor the 136 women who were killed by domestic violence in the state of Texas last year, each represented by a Silent Witness.
The Silent Witness Initiative seeks to promote peace, healing, and responsibility in adult relationships in order to eliminate domestic murders in the United States by the year 2020.
To learn more about the Silent Witness Initiative, please visit HERE.
To request a silent witness to be delivered to your business, click HERE.