Love Yourself

Posted on February 15, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day! It's a day where we all sit surrounded by Cupid and pink hearts, and take time to be grateful for our healthy and supportive relationships. Those significant others can definitely make life sweeter, but here's a thought: Is there any relationship more valuable than your relationship with yourself? 

Loving yourself can be a struggle that stays with you for your whole life, especially for the population we serve that have experienced abuse or assault. Finding the things that you love about your friends and family for some of us is way easier than finding the things you love about yourself. We are all imperfect beings; but after experiencing the kind of tear downs that survivors of abuse have, it can feel like you are made entirely of flaws.  

Let's go ahead and clear this up- you are the perfect and only version of you in the world, and you deserve to love and be loved by others! And not just because of the great things about you, but because of your imperfections too. Because those little scars and insecurities, those embarrassing and painful experiences you have had in your life- those things have made you who you are today. And you are perfect. 

Loving yourself despite your flaws is a lot easier said than done, I know. So here's some suggestions of a super important thing for you to work into your daily schedule- SELF CARE! Actively put time and energy into your relationship with yourself, and you will start to see your best self blossom. 

Tips for Self-Care from DCFOF Staff: 

  1. "I like to bake. Sometimes when I am stressed I will bake something and make it as beautiful and decorative as I possibly can. It's a feeling of accomplishment when I can look at something and say- 'I made that, and it's awesome'". -KS 

  2. "In order for me to be in a good space for myself and for others I have to carve out time in my schedule to be creative. I know that sounds weird to say "carve out time" to do something like this but it is very important for me. It is my one way to unwind and be purposeful in something I enjoy the process and the result." - CW 

  3. "I make egg and chorizo burritos and take my kids to the park to have a breakfast feast. The kids play, I watch them play, I relax a bit and then join in the play session myself...I make an awesome mud pie :)"  - CS 

  4. Remind yourself these things:- KR 

    1. "Who I am is enough. What I do is enough. What I have is enough." 

    2. "I owe myself the same love I give to others so freely." 

  5. "My self care is all about me which is fitting. Anything involving essential oils, bath products or spa activities is my #1 self care go to." -RS 

More Self Care Ideas

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Driving To Safety

Posted on February 9, 2018

Driving To Safety

There are many roadblocks impacting our client's ability to get the help they need and access safety. One of those roadblocks oftentimes is transportation. 99% of domestic violence victims experience financial abuse and transportation is one of the many challenges that arises. #DrivingToSafety helps give clients their freedom back by assisting with transportation needs.  But, we need your help!  

Help support our clients who need access to transportation by donating to the #DrivingToSafety campaign! Consider giving $5 or $10 on a recurring monthly basis. That small amount will help our clients travel safely to work, court, counseling and even drive their kids to school. Your small gift makes a huge impact!  

Help Support 

You're not giving her a ride, you're giving her freedom back. So, let's talk about this.  

The Facts

According to the Purple Purse Foundation (a non-profit foundation fighting against financial abuse), 99% of abuse victims experience financial abuse. This means that their abuser keeps them from being able to obtain and maintain financial resources. They will do things like not allow the victim to work (which makes them rely on the abuser to live), not allow them to have access to a bank account (which makes them rely on the abuser to give them an allowance), and even intentionally ruin the victim's credit (which means the victim could not qualify for a loan). This is so detrimental to a person being able to lead a functional adult life, that it is reported as one of the top barriers many victims experience when they are trying to leave an abusive relationship. 

So how does transportation fit into all this? Financial abuse affects every part of a person's life, including their ability to own a car and pay for gas. If their abuser has cut them off from any source of income, how can they keep up with car payments or afford gas?  

Finding Freedom 

Think about this- what really makes you feel free?  One thing is certainly the ability to get yourself to and from a destination, now that is a sign of freedom. Remember how you couldn't wait to turn 16! Before we could drive we were "controlled" (presumably by parents or guardians), and had to have permission before going anywhere or doing anything. Maybe you still were supposed to get permission once you had a car, but you didn't really HAVE to. When you got the keys, you got the control over your own life. When the keys are taken away from victims of domestic violence, it is all part of the power and control that the abuser exerts over that person.  

It's more than just a feeling of powerlessness- it's the inability to do things like take your kids to school and visit friends and family. It's the inability to go to the grocery store without permission from your partner, or take yourself to the doctor. Real world things that victims and survivors need to be able to do to thrive on their own. 

So here is where we come in! At Friends of the Family many clients experience financial abuse, and oftentimes due to those circumstances do not have access to a reliable form of transportation. They may be out of the relationship, but they are not as free as they deserve to be. We currently purchase bus passes for clients but often times the schedule may conflict with a client's needs or the route may not get them to where they need to go. So we need to be able to provide more resources. Here's where you come in!

How You Can Help

Our new campaign, #DrivingToSafety, is aimed at bringing in funds for gas gift cards, Uber gift cards. Lyft gift cards and bus passes for our clients who have this need- all things transporation. It's not the same as a new car, but for someone who has had everything taken away, it is a slice of freedom that they should have had this whole time.

Help support our clients who need access to transportation by donating to the #DrivingToSafety campaign! 100% of the proceeds from this campaign will be used to help our clients who need assistance with transportation.  

You're not giving her a ride, you're giving her freedom back. 

We ask that you consider giving $5 or $10 on a recurring monthly basis. That small amount will help clients travel safely to work, court, counseling and even drive their kids to school. Your small gift makes a huge impact!  


Thank you for supporting our client's road to freedom with the #DrivingToSafety campaign! 

If you have any questions get in touch with us.  

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Love Is Respect

Posted on February 7, 2018

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month 

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. When we think of the term "domestic violence," teen dating violence is not usually the first thought that comes to mind. We think of married partners or adult partners who are living together with their children. When we think of the children and teens involved we think of them more as witnesses to the violence, but that is not always the case. In fact, teen dating violence is much more prevalent than most people realize, with nearly 1.5 MILLION high schoolers nationwide suffering physical abuse from an intimate partner each year. 

What are the signs of dating violence?

Let's Talk Stats

1 in 3 adolescents in the US is a victim of intimate partner violence (verbal, emotional, sexual, or physical), exceeding the adult statistic of 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men. In fact, teens are more likely to be a victim of intimate partner violence than any other form of youth violence. Teens and young women are the most at-risk population for domestic violence, almost half (46%) of dating college women are victims of dating violence, and girls ages 16-24 experience the absolute highest rate of dating violence (3X the national average). 

Abuse is a form of violence that never really goes away. The bruises may heal and fade, but many of the effects of dating violence are felt long-term. Being a victim of dating violence as a teen puts survivors at high risk of developing eating disorders, substance abuse, risky sexual behaviors, and experiencing more/further domestic violence. Physically and sexually abused teens are 6 times more likely to have a teen pregnancy, and twice as likely to contract a STI than non-abused teens. They are also at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, which can significantly affect all aspects of a survivor's life. 

What does counseling for a teen survivor look like?

Let's Talk Prevention

So what can we do about it? Spread awareness! An astounding 81% of parents do not think that dating violence is an issue! We must talk to our kids about what dating violence can look like and who to turn to for help. Only 33% of teens in an abusive relationship will disclose the abuse to anyone and part of the reason is that they may fear they will not be believed or that it is their fault. It's on all of us to create an embracing culture that supports victims and survivors of violence. That starts with spreading awareness and access to resources. 

Community Education is a big part of what we do here at Denton County Friends of the Family. In fact, in 2017 we educated over 28,956 community members throughout Denton County. We offer programs about the prevention of relationship violence and sexual assault to all parts of our community. From our Bumbles presentations with children as young as kindergarten-aged to healthy relationship presentations for teens. We cover the whole spectrum of education for youth about teen dating violence, relationship violence and sexual assault. If you would like more information about scheduling a presentation or partnering with our community education team then let's get connected.  

Get Connected

If you feel you or someone you know may be experiencing dating violence, please call our 24-hour crisis line at 940.382.7273 or 800.572.4031. Crisis line calls are an anonymous and confidential way to get more information and ask questions you may have been afraid to ask anyone else. 

*Statistics courtesy of 

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Domestic Human Trafficking

Posted on February 1, 2018

Human Trafficking

Guest Author: Dr. Nicole Holmes, DCFOF Director of Policy and Training

When people think of Human Trafficking or the more appropriate term, sex slavery, they typically think of it as something that happens elsewhere.  It is seen as a problem in places such as India, Cambodia or the Philippines.  We are often reluctant to recognize the prevalence of this horrific human rights violation in our own back yard.  When Americans do acknowledge that sex slavery occurs in the United States, it is still seen as an international crime.  It is viewed as “others” kidnapping white women and children to be taken across seas or women brought from other countries to be forced into prostitution in the United States.  While these crimes do occur at an alarmingly high rate, a large proportion of sex slavery in the U.S. falls under the category of Domestic Human Trafficking.  Domestic Human Trafficking can take many forms, but the end result is an individual being forced into sexual servitude with their liberty, safety, humanity, dignity, and choice taken from them.  Here are some common examples of Domestic Human Trafficking:

  • A mother sells her 11 year-old daughter to a child pornography and prostitution ring for money to support her drug habit.
  • A father consents to the marriage of his 12 year-old daughter to an adult male for a “bride price,” where the child experiences ongoing rape, abuse, and control.
  • A husband forces his wife into prostitution; controlling the money, partners, and settings.
  • A “boyfriend” or predatory male blackmails a teen girl into prostitution, continually increasing threats and control until the teen is adequately isolated from her support systems.
  • A runaway teenager is offered food/shelter/compassion as a trade for sex and is then groomed to provide more sexual acts for continued support until they are eventually deep under the abuser’s control.

Any of the above situations can and often do lead to forced pornography and selling of the individuals to other “pimps,” often across state lines.  The victim is often provided with drugs, given under the guise of care or fun, but in reality used to further maintain control over the victim.  The victim becomes increasingly dependent on the trafficker as they are further isolated from support systems and normal life.  The victim is taught to believe that they have no value beyond providing sex, would be rejected by anyone they turned to, and need the trafficker for food, shelter, protection, and drugs.  The trafficker may additionally blackmail the victim with threats of disclosing what “they have done” to their family or threatened the victim with increased violence and/or harm to their loved ones.  The victim’s fears of others are often reinforced when they are arrested for prostitution or possession of drugs and treated as a common criminal.  The victim may try to reach out for help and be rejected because of a criminal history of prostitution or because of their drug addiction.  Each of these incidents is proof to the victim that the trafficker is right and they give-up seeking a way out.  Unfortunately, these women and children often have a very short life, with high incidents of murder, suicide, and drug overdose.

Despite the sad and helpless tone of this narrative, there is hope!  There are agencies across the nation, like Denton County Friends of the Family (DCFOF), which provide services to victims of human trafficking.  DCFOF has an emergency safety shelter for victims who need a hidden and comfortable place that provides secrecy and protection from the trafficker.  DCFOF provides transitional housing, advocacy, legal assistance, case management, career, school, and financial guidance, and other resources to assist victims in finding independence and a new life.  Additionally, DCFOF provides professional counseling for adults, adolescents, and children to help victims heal from the traumas they have experienced and find true recovery.  If you or someone you know has experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking/sex slavery please reach out for help. 

You can call the Denton County Friends of the Family Hotline at 940-382-7273/800-572-4031 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.

Get Help

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National Stalking Awareness Month

Posted on January 25, 2018

January is National Stalking Awareness Month, first observed by the National Center for Victims of Crime in January 2004. Denton County Friends of the Family works diligently to inform and educate our community about the possibility of intimate partner stalking escalating into intimate partner violence. #NSAM

Every year in the United States, 7.5 million people report occurrences of stalking. The majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know, with half reporting that the incidence occurred before age 25. 61% of female victims and 44% of male victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner, and 67% of women who are stalked by their intimate partner also report having been physically abused by them.

The Texas penal code defines stalking as when someone knowingly engages in behavior that someone else would find threatening, and that would cause a reasonable person to be afraid. A stalker tries to control his or her victim through behavior or threats intended to intimidate and/or terrify.

Myths and Facts about stalking:

Myth: It can’t be stalking if you’re dating the person.

Fact: Even if you’re dating, if your every move is being tracked by your partner and it causes you fear, that is stalking.

Myth: Only celebrities deal with being stalked.

Fact: The majority of the 7.5 million people who are stalked every year are ordinary people.

Myth: Stalking is annoying and inconvenient but it is not illegal.

Fact: Stalking is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In Texas, stalking is a 3rd degree felony, and with a prior stalking conviction, it becomes a 2nd degree felony.

If you are being stalked, notify local law enforcement (and possibly the district attorney offices), keep a record that includes names and addresses of witnesses, seek a protective order, record telephone conversations, take pictures of the stalker, and tell as many people as you can. Then, keep telling. Be sure to develop measures to help yourself stay safe. Be alert, vary your routes to and from places you often visit like work or the grocery store, park in secure and well-lit areas, maintain privacy on social media and anywhere conversations could be overhead, and work with agencies like ours to develop a safety plan for yourself and your family members in case of emergency. Most importantly, do not dismiss any threat. A stalker’s behavior has potential to escalate quickly.

If you are a victim of stalking, alert local law enforcement as soon as possible. Denton County Friends of the Family is dedicated to helping our community stay safe through prevention, education, awareness, intervention, and advocacy. For more information, visit programs/stalking-resource-center. Stalking is not romantic and it is not a joke: it is a crime.

Not sure if this applies to you/your relationship?  Call our 24-Hour Crisis Line for anonymous information and advice: 940-382-7273 or 800-572-4031

Crisis Line Information

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Meet the Board Leadership

Posted on January 18, 2018

At DCFOF, our Board of Directors is a very important part of our agency's leadership. With professions spanning from teaching to real estate, our volunteer board members donate their time, talent, and treasure to make our agency as successful as possible. They oversee the agency's development, financial health, and even help with our biggest fundraising events. Meet the amazing leaders of the 2018 DCFOF Board of Directors! 

2018 Board Chair: Celisa Willson 

Classifying Celisa as a “Texas girl” is a bit of an understatement.  In her family, she represents the 6thgeneration to be born and raised right here in Denton County.  As a REALTOR®, being involved in her community is very important, and DCFOF gives her the ability to help with what she considers a necessity: empowering women.  Celisa has been happily married to her husband, Rob, since 1995 and enjoys traveling, networking, re-doing furniture and rooting for her Dallas Cowboys! 

2018 First Vice Chair: Charles Marinello 

Charles became a Friends of the Family board member in 2016 and brings executive general management and strategic focus to the board. He is currently the CEO of Strategic Growth Partners, LLC, and is a retired VP from Texas Instruments and Raytheon. He has a BS, MS, and MBA. 

2018 Second Vice Chair: Susan Stout 

Susan Stout is the Store Director for Tiffany & Co. at the Dallas Galleria.  A Dallas native, she graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in Radio/Television & Film, and spent her early career in the hospitality industry with Four Seasons Hotels.  Susan joined the DCFOF Board after working with them for many years as a corporate sponsor. Tiffany & Co. and DCFOF have a very special partnership, and it was through this that Susan learned about the important and meaningful work that DCFOF provides to the community.   Susan has also served as a professional mentor and business internship host with the SMU Alumni Association, ICIMS mentor with the Frisco Independent School District, scholarship reviewer for the Irving Schools Foundation, Board Member with Chamberlain Performing Arts in Plano, member of the Metrocare Auxiliary, event committee chair for both The Taylor Hooton Foundation Gala and the North Texas Energy for Life Walk, and is a current member of the DCFOF Women’s Auxiliary. 

2018 Secretary: Kim Guertler 

Kim has worked for the Denton County Criminal District Attorney’s Office for 20 years.  During her time of working in the Family Violence Unit, she had the opportunity to work closely with Friends of the Family staff and she became passionate about helping victims of domestic violence.  She joined the Board in 2017 and she is excited about having the opportunity to serve DCFOF in this capacity.  Kim is a longtime Denton County resident and a graduate of Texas Woman’s University.  She and her husband, Peter, have two children and they enjoy travelling, riding their Harley-Davidson motorcycle and spending time with their kids.  

2018 Treasurer: Brandon Reed, CPA 

Brandon is a practicing CPA at KHA Accountants, PLLC in Denton with a focus on taxation and business consulting. He and his wife, Alex, enjoy the outdoors and hitting a few balls at the tennis courts whenever they have some free time. He also enjoys spending time with his two nieces and two nephews on the weekends. 

Brandon moved back to the North Texas area from Abilene in 2016 and has been active in the community ever since. He caught wind of the amazing things Denton County Friends of the Family does for the victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse and wanted to help in any way he could. He has a passion to help create a safe community and serve those that have been affected by violence. 

2018 Board Development Chair: Gene Cherrnay 

Inspired by the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, Gene has spent his career in architecture and remodeling. He is proud to serve on the DCFOF board for seven years, as he has seen first-hand how domestic violence wreaks havoc in the lives of the children and adults who have been impacted by it. He is an avid camper and spends his "off" time doing so on the Brazos River and adoring his two grand children (Asher and Ellie Joan), as well as his loveable beagle, Leah Matilda. 

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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