Employee Spotlight: Meet Cyndi Grady, LPC

Posted on March 6, 2019

Cyndi is one of our longest employees at DCFOF! She is a Licensed Professional Counselor who has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology from Texas Woman's University.  Cyndi started working with Friends of the Family as a counseling intern in 2005 and became a staff counselor in 2006. 
Over the last thirteen years, Cyndi has taken on many roles at the agency, including BIPP (Battering Intervention and Prevention) Counselor, Crisis Line Coordinator, Shelter Director, Shelter Counselor, and Adult Counselor at our Outreach office in Corinth. Cyndi has a passion for working with victims/survivors, often helping with our Survivors Advocacy Team by providing accompaniment to sexual assault victims in local emergency rooms. Cyndi provides counseling for individual and group clients, and supervises many of our graduate counseling interns from local universities. Cyndi loves working with the amazing clients at DCFOF because she is inspired by their incredible strength and resilience. Cyndi believes her clients already possess within themselves the strength and resourcefulness to achieve their goals, and counseling offers them a safe space in which to explore and heal so that they can create for themselves the lives they wish to lead. 
The clients and interns at DCFOF have great things to say about Cyndi: “I feel a sense of relief that I no longer have to live in the horrible environment I have been in for the past 15 years, and that is thanks to DCFOF and Cyndi”
“I feel better knowing that I am not alone and that there are services available to help me. I wish I had come to Cyndi sooner.”
“Cyndi really cares and has been a great role model of how to provide compassionate care to clients”
We are so grateful to Cyndi for all her years of service to the agency and the many lives  
she has impacted along the way! 

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Black History Month

Posted on February 27, 2019

Intern Blog by Nadia Rosales

    In celebrating Black History Month, it is important to recognize the ways in which intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual assault (SA) uniquely affect the Black community. As we know, intimate partner violence and sexual assault can impact anybody from any walk of life; however, there are undoubtedly communities that disproportionately experience these forms of violence and African Americans are among those who experience these forms of violence at higher rates. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the data shows that:

•    More than 4 in 10 Black women experience physical violence from an intimate partner during their lifetimes. White women, Latinas, and Asian/Pacific Islander women report lower rates.
•    Black women also experience significantly higher rates of psychological abuse—including humiliation, insults, name-calling, and coercive control—than do women overall.
•    Sexual violence affects Black women at high rates. More than 20% of Black women are raped during their lifetimes—a higher share than among women overall.
•    Black women face a particularly high risk of being killed at the hands of a man. A 2015 Violence Policy Center study finds that Black women were 2.5 times more likely to be murdered by men than their White counterparts. More than 9 in 10 Black female victims knew their killers.
•    Domestic violence is the number one cause of death for Black women between the ages of 15 and 35.

    It is not just Black women who experience these forms of violence disproportionately, Black men do too. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that both African American men and women were victimized by intimate partners at a rate 35% higher than persons of any other race. Beyond this, African American men were 62% more likely than white men to become victims of IPV, and about 2.5 times more likely than women of other races to become victims of IPV. Moreover, 12% of African American men reported experiencing at least one episode of IPV annually. 
    Considering these harrowing statistics, it is clear that both sexual assault and intimate partner violence are pervasive issues within the Black community. The impact of this is profound; so much so that the National Black Women's Health Project identified intimate partner violence as the number one health issue for African American women. In the face of all this, it is important to recognize the African American individuals and organizations that are helping to combat these widespread issues and bring hope to those affected. 

    The first person I’d like to highlight is Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a well-known legal scholar, and activist who has done a tremendous amount of work in seeking justice for victims of gender and race-based violence, including sexual violence. She is most known for coining the term intersectionality, which has been used to better understand the ways gender, race, poverty, etc., shape the experiences of African American people, both within the legal sphere and beyond. Intersectionality is defined as the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. This concept is particularly important when considering what factors contribute to the occurrence of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Recently in an interview on NPR, Crenshaw made the following statement, speaking to the ways gender and race intersect in cases of sexual abuse: 

“I do think that race does play a role. African-American women have routinely been challenged in their efforts to tell a story about sexual abuse. There was a time that a case might be dismissed if the allegation of rape or other forms of sexual abuse didn't also allege that the victim was white.”

By recognizing the roles that race and gender play in shaping the experiences of African-American women seeking help when they have been sexually assaulted, Crenshaw highlights the challenges they face in telling their stories. This point brings me to the next individual I would like to highlight, someone who we were fortunate enough to have speak at our event, “An Evening of Raised Awareness,” Dr. Renee Fowler Hornbuckle. Dr. Hornbuckle is dedicated to breaking the silence that surrounds domestic violence and sexual assault and empowering the members of her community with the tools to do so. Since speaking out about her own abuse, she is now partnering and participating with various organizations to bring about awareness, helping others break their silence and take a stand against domestic violence. Speaking out and raising awareness is integral to combating IPV and SA; Dr. Hornbuckle is making profound strides in this area.

    DCFOF’s event, “An Evening of Raised Awareness,” where Dr. Renee Fowler Hornbuckle spoke, was made possible by the Our Community Matters program at Denton County Friends of the Family, coordinated by Cassandra Berry. As it states on our website, the Our Community Matters program “focuses on engaging the African American community and bringing increased awareness to the resources available for victims of domestic violence.” Programs like these play a crucial role in helping those affected by intimate partner violence and sexual assault. As was discussed earlier in this post, it is especially important to reach those who are disproportionately affected by these forms of violence, which is exactly what the Our Community Matters program aims to do. 

    Ultimately, while the disproportionate occurrence of SA and IPV in the Black community is cause for concern, the hard work done by Black women and organizations dedicated to helping to combat these forms of violence, is cause for celebration this Black History Month. When looking at the statistics mentioned early on in this post, it is easy to feel disheartened. No one should ever experience sexual assault or intimate partner violence in any community. Thankfully, there are hardworking members of the community, both individuals and organizations, who are helping to raise awareness and provide resources, in hopes that this issue will no longer exist in the future and that those who are survivors are empowered with the resources they need to thrive. 
At Friends of the Family 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.
If you or someone you know needs help please call our 24-hour crisis line at 940-382-7273 OR 800-572-4031.






Rennison, C. M., & Welchans, S. (2000). Bureau of Justice Statistics special report: Intimate partner violence. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.
L. Hampton, Robert & Oliver, William & Magarian, Lucia. (2003). “Domestic Violence in the African American Community: An Analysis of Social and Structural Factors.” Violence Against Women. 9. 533-557. 10.1177/1077801202250450.
Hornbuckle, Renee Fowler. Suffering in Silence: Break the Silence. CreateSpace, 2012.

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Play Therapy

Posted on February 22, 2019

Play Therapy

Written By: Michelle Fox, M. Ed., LPC-S RPT-S

Here at Denton County Friends of the Family our therapists are both excited and honored to be a part of a child’s journey through play therapy. Children utilize play as a way to process the world around them.  If play is the language of children, toys are the words. Think back to when you were a child, if it was up to you, you would have played all day long! In play therapy, a child might play with a doll showing their ability to nurture, or a child might build a tall tower out of blocks displaying their need to master a task.  Play therapy allows a child to explore their inner thoughts and feelings in a way that is developmentally appropriate. Play can be fun, challenging, and sometimes very serious. The sandbox can be a world of fantastic moments, adventures, challenges made, monsters destroyed, princesses avenged, or a fun day on the beach. Regardless, it all has important meaning to a struggling child. Trained play therapists understand how to effectively communicate with children by providing a safe place for children to process any issues that might be present for them. A play therapist can literally speak a child’s language! 

Trauma affects children by teaching them the world is unsafe and unpredictable.  When working with children who have experienced trauma, we might see children who are anxious, withdrawn, or angry.  Parents and teachers often report their children or students having trouble focusing, sitting still, and appearing to struggle to connect with their peers.  Children who experience trauma can come to play therapy to heal by experiencing a safe environment with a safe person, thus showing the child that the world can be a great place!

In 2018, our play therapists have completed 5,013 hours of play therapy. We have seen an increase of self-esteem, greater child/parent relationship bonds, and a decrease of fearfulness and acting-out behaviors.  Our parents express that their children have an increase in self-regulation and have displayed more self-control.  Some parents have even stated that play therapy has given their child the space to learn how to just be a kid.

Learn More

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Denim, Diamonds, and Dice Benefit

Posted on February 20, 2019

Guest Blog By: Tami Schmidt, Lantana Ladies League Casino Night Chair

Our partnerships within the community are incredibly important to our agency and we are grateful for all of the support we receive from organizations around the County. The Lantana Ladies League is hosting an event benefiting us and one of their representatives, Tami Schmidt, was kind enough to write this guest blog for us! 

“Be the reason someone smiles today.” It isn’t just a nice sentiment…it’s a rallying cry for the passionate women behind the Lantana Ladies League. 

For more than 14 years, the League has existed to make a difference in the Lantana and surrounding Denton County communities by fostering volunteerism, fellowship and mentoring services for at-risk women, adolescents, and children. On Friday, March 22 from 7:00 PM - 11:00 PM, the League will once again come together to give back by hosting Denim, Diamonds, and Dice: A Texas-Style Casino Night at the beautiful Circle R Ranch in Flower Mound, all to raise money and awareness for Denton County Friends of the Family

Every year, Casino Night draws a lively crowd to raise money for worthy organizations that deserve an extra boost from the community in recognition of the critical work they do to support some of our most vulnerable friends, family members, and neighbors. We acknowledge the critical role that Friends of the Family serves in providing safety, hope, healing, and justice to the 1 in 4 women in our community who have faced domestic and sexual violence. Even though it’s an unfortunate reality, we can’t and won’t bury our heads or pretend this violence doesn’t exist. By standing up, speaking out and helping to raise awareness, we hope we can provide one more person with the courage to seek help or prevent another person from falling victim to these unthinkable circumstances. 

This year’s Casino Night is a re-imagined event with new and different activities so that there’s something for everyone. Attendees should come dressed in their finest denim, diamonds, and “cowboy cocktail attire” to enjoy a full Texas barbeque dinner, boot scoot to one of the area’s top DJs, try their luck at a variety of casino table games (Blackjack, Craps, Roulette and Poker) for a chance to win amazing raffle prizes, bid on coveted silent auction items, show off their rodeo skills on a mechanical bull, take a break by the fire pit with a cocktail or freshly rolled cigar, and envision themselves driving one of several luxury cars on display by one of our Diamond sponsors, Park Place Dealerships. 

How often do you get to enjoy a fun night out while also helping to make a difference in someone’s life? We warmly welcome any and everyone to join us for this fun, meaningful event.  Tickets are on sale here. but act fast! Early bird prices are only available through February 28.  As an added incentive, the first 50 people who register will receive two tickets for a free adult beverage. If you’re interested in sponsorship opportunities or donating an item to the raffle or silent auction, please contact Tami Schmidt

Please join us on March 22, help us support the women who lean on Denton County Friends of the Family, and most importantly… be the reason someone smiles today!

Purchase Tickets 

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Friends of the Badge

Posted on February 12, 2019

Friends of the Badge

Collaborative Community Effort in Action

Imagine you are a survivor of domestic violence and in need of help. You're scared, embarrassed, and don't even know where to start. How do you know who you can trust? How do you know that if you leave you will be able to keep yourself safe? What if your abuser tries to get custody of your children? If you do come forward, will anyone believe you?

These questions and fears are exactly why the collaboration between law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and Friends of the Family is INCREDIBLY important. The way to truly keep victims safe, and hold abusers accountable, is through a collaborative community effort. At Friends of the Family, we are proud to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault on their way to safety, hope, healing, and justice, and help prevent these crimes through community education. But we cannot do it alone. Every program that we have is enhanced and made more effective by the actions of others to stand up for victims whenever possible. This includes law enforcement, attorneys and judges in the criminal justice system, school districts, political representatives, and more.

So what does collaborative community effort look like? It looks like the police officer that keeps DCFOF pamphlets in their car to hand out to any domestic violence victim they come across, whether they are ready to press charges against the abuser or not. It looks like the CPS worker who instead of finding fault with the victim parent for staying in the abusive relationship, supported that parent by referring them to DCFOF and holding the abuser accountable for the unsafe situation. It looks like a judge ordering mandatory BIPP classes (Battering Intervention and Prevention Program) for any abuser that comes across his docket. It looks like the school counselors across the County that schedule our community educators to come out and speak to kids about warning signs and preventing violence. It looks like the local attorney who refers potential victims to DCFOF for support every chance that they can. It looks like local churches and community organizations coming together and asking how they can help support victims in our community.

All of these things are happening in our community and it makes a HUGE impact! These actions, as small as they may seem, are what make a collaborative community effort to support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in our community. We may have a shelter and a whole host of programs, but we can only make it so far on our own. We need you!

This is why we host the annual Friends of the Badge luncheon. One of the most important parts of our community collaboration is with our first responders, law enforcement, and the criminal justice team who see victims and perpetrators every day. It is within your power to continue to change the way our community handles these cases, and we are very grateful that you choose to partner with us to make our community one of safety and empathy. This is our chance to say thank you for everything that you do for our clients every day. You make a difference!

We are in need of sponsors to make this event happen! We want to give a big SHOUT OUT to Coker, Robb, & Cannon for being our title sponsor of Friends of the Badge this year! Click below learn more about sponsorship and how to be a part of this collaborative community effort.


Questions? Email KShields@dcfof.org

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Discussing Dating Violence

Posted on February 6, 2019

Discussing Dating Violence with a Friend or Loved One 

Have you started noticing that your friend or loved one is in a relationship that does not appear to be healthy? Their significant other needs to know where your loved one is at all times, demands that they have access to your friend’s social media pages, and has the password to their phone and other accounts? Have you heard the partner belittle or verbally put down your friend? Is your friend never available to hang out with you because their significant other demands all their time? These are a few of the warning signs that your friend or loved one may be in an abusive relationship. 

Talking to a friend or loved one about your concerns regarding a potentially abusive relationship can be difficult to navigate, especially if the friend or loved one doesn't see what you see or refuses to hear what you have to say. February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month or #TDVAM. Teen Dating Violence is defined as “the physical, sexual, psychological or emotional aggression with a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person, or electronically and might occur between a current or former dating partner”. (Learn more here) Being a teen is already difficult as it is, going through puberty, adjusting to new social and peer standards and of course dating. Among female victims of intimate partner violence, 94% were age 16-19 and 70% age 20-24, were victimized by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend. Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. 

So, how does one talk to someone they care for about the relationship they are in? 

The first step is starting the conversation. Inform the friend or loved one that you have noticed certain things that concern you or things have changed, provide examples, and then ask if they have noticed these things as well. If they have, or even if they haven’t, ask how they feel regarding what you have noticed.  

Follow their lead; if they want the conversation to end, respect that, but relay that you are there for them if ever they need you.  

Remain supportive. Your friend or loved one may not recognize the abuse and may not be ready to end that relationship. That is their choice. Don’t judge them for these feelings, keep an open mind, and if the time is right, let them know of different resources available to them, online and from trusted adults. 

Now that dialogue has begun, keep your communication open. Your friend needs your support and for you to listen, not to close them off. Threatening to no longer speak to them if they do not leave their partner or demands/judgments can end up isolating them even further and can do more harm than good. Instead, remind them that you only want to help and that when they are ready, you will be there for them. Verbalizing these positive reminders that they have your support can be encouraging when they are ready to leave their partner.  

When in need, ask for support. If you feel your friend is in immediate danger or that their life is at risk or has been threatened, call 911. Talk to a trusted counselor, adult, or call our 24-Hour Crisis Line (800.572.4031) if you want to learn about how to better support your friend. Remember that boundaries, warning signs, and healthy relationships are not as clear when you are in an abusive relationship.  

The first thing to say to your friend or loved one when they tell you that they have been abused, is, “I believe you and support you”. Your belief in them will be all that more powerful of a supportive tool than anything else. Sharing that one is a victim of abuse can be frightening, oftentimes the biggest fear being that they won’t be believed, that is why it is vital that you not only believe them but also verbalize that belief. Then, help them safety plan by connecting them to resources like Denton County Friends of the Family, via our Crisis Line 940.382.7273 / 800.572.4031. 

Believing in your friend or loved one, listening to them, and supporting them in any decision they make will be the best thing for them. And if they chose to stay with their partner, respect that choice, but keep in contact with them, remind them that you are there for them no matter what.  

Check Out These Additional Resources: 

Break The Cycle


Love Is Respect

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<c>Typical warning signs of abuse</c> - Preview

Typical warning signs of abuse

1 in 4 women will experience intimate partner violence - Preview

1 in 4 women will experience intimate partner violence

4,405 adults and children received 94,065 services in 2019 - Preview

4,405 adults and children received 94,065 services in 2019