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Inside TFP

Stay up to date on the latest happenings at The Family Place, news about family violence in our community, and what we’re doing to keep victims safe.

Inside The Family Place

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Margie Heilbronner

    by Emily Roberts | Nov 13, 2018

    Margie Heilbronner started working at The Family Place in January 2003 as an adult case manager. About a year ago, she became a resident advocate for men in our emergency shelter services. The job was familiar to her since she had worked with the men in the military in California prior to coming to The Family Place.

    “That was my first exposure to male victims,” she said. “I learned that it took a lot of courage to get help when you’re a male victim. It’s really something to have a young marine come to your office because he couldn’t tell his sergeant that his wife had put a knife to his throat.”

    When The Family Place opened a men’s shelter in 2017, it was the first in the state. Since that time, Margie said she has seen a lot of amazing dads. One of the first shelter residents was the father of two girls, a 17 year old and a nine year old, who had cerebral palsy. He had been the sole caregiver for the younger child, who used a wheelchair and had severe allergies—all while working in IT for Verizon.

    When they came to the shelter, he had to prepare all of her meals because of her allergies. She also suffered from debilitating seizures, but his wife did not believe in medical care. This was a constant source of conflict for them, Margie said. While at our shelter, he was able to get his daughter on medication that controlled her seizures.

    Like so many female victims we see, his abuser not only physically abused him but also controlled him and isolated him from friends and family. Seeing his children suffer was a strong motivation to leave. While at our men’s shelter, he reconnected with his family and eventually was able to move to Florida where his mother lived. He has since found a school to accommodate his younger daughter’s special needs, and his older daughter tested out of high school and is attending Florida State.

    “He was a dedicated dad,” Margie said. “It really impressed me that he was able to do his work and take such good care of both daughters while healing and moving beyond his victimization. “It’s hard for people to understand that men are victims, too. Female abusers use power and control the same way male abusers do.”

    Margie said her favorite part of her job is being a voice for male victims who need services.

    “I enjoy being able to advocate for them—in the office, in the courts and in the community,” she said.

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Robin & Norm Bagwell

    by Emily Roberts | Oct 25, 2018

    Bank of Texas has been a supporter of The Family Place Partners Card for 10 years, but Bank of Texas Chairman and CEO Norm Bagwell and his wife, Robin, have followed the work of The Family Place for nearly 20 years.

    “It is a tremendous organization,” Norm says. “A true difference maker in our community. In another time, family violence was a tough topic to fully understand. It was a troubling issue, and people in general struggled with how to talk about it and even worse what to do about it. The relentless advocacy of The Family Place helped bring this problem out of the dark and into mainstream discussion. I think The Family Place changed the conversation, increased public awareness and acceptance, and offered help and hope to those impacted.”

    Norm says Partners Card has been an incredible partnership for Bank of Texas. Over the years the relationship has grown into a multifaceted one where Bank of Texas provides the agency with advocacy, facility support, banking, and volunteers if needed.

    “This has become one of our most impactful relationships, and we are proud to partner with The Family Place,” he says.

    Norm and Robin are also dedicated users of Partners Card and mark the week on their calendar every year without exception—even the year Robin gave Norm a kidney.

    “I was only in the hospital a couple of nights,” Robin says. “Norm’s stay was longer, and he was released on our anniversary, November 4th.  On the way home from the hospital, he and my dad stopped at Bachendorf’s to pick up an anniversary present. They couldn’t believe Norm was stopping on his way home from the hospital and asked why he didn’t get the present ahead of time, especially since this was a planned surgery. The answer was simple—it wasn’t during Partners Card!”

    Join us in thanking Norm and Robin Bagwell and Bank of Texas for their commitment to Partners Card and The Family Place.

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: The Crystal Charity Ball

    by Emily Roberts | Oct 17, 2018

    The Crystal Charity Ball has supported the mission of The Family Place by providing transformational funding at three critical junctures of our growth. In 1986 we received support for our Children’s Therapeutic Program, in 2010 for Faith and Liberty’s Place, and in 2016 to name the Children’s Counseling Center at Ann Moody Place. The three gifts total $2,148,450 and have had an enormous impact on the safety and well being of thousands of children.

    “Being able to be in on the ground floor of Ann Moody Place was a huge privilege,” says Claire Emanuelson, current chairman of The Crystal Charity Ball. “Our donors have great respect for The Family Place and were very supportive of the capital campaign to fund the Children’s Counseling Center. Our beneficiaries must serve children in Dallas, and our investments must be used specifically to benefit youth under the age of 18,” she explains.

    Over the years many members of The Crystal Charity Ball have served in leadership roles at The Family Place. Claire is an excellent example. She serves on The Family Place Foundation board of directors, is a lifetime member of The Family Place Partners, and she and her husband, Dwight, a previous board member of The Family Place, helped launch our ReuNight fundraiser in 2013.

    “Dwight and I got introduced to The Family Place many years ago through Pepsi KidAround and then Palm Night,” Claire says. “We were incredibly impressed with Paige’s leadership and vision for the growth of the organization. We ended up chairing Palm Night and then helped Paige launch ReuNight. Paige is dynamic in sharing her deep passion for The Family Place and has cultivated loyal relationships in the Dallas community and beyond.”

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Lizbeth Cooley

    by Emily Roberts | Oct 10, 2018

    Lizbeth Cooley came to the United States to get her master’s degree after receiving her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in her home country of Venezuela. She fell in love with the United States, and also fell in love with a man named Robert. His charming personality and beautiful blue eyes caught her attention and her heart.

    Before they married in 2002, Lizbeth noticed he was a little controlling, but she thought she could handle it. After six months of marriage, arguments started. Lizbeth’s parents had been married for 47 years before her dad passed away, so she never considered divorce an option. Instead she focused on trying to make the marriage work. As time passed Robert gained power over her, to the point that she didn’t feel like herself and began isolating herself to avoid confrontations with him.

    After two years of marriage Lizbeth wanted to have a child and hoped that a baby would help. After trying to get pregnant and failing she started seeing doctors, but nothing was working. Lizbeth began saving money to pay for in vitro fertilization treatments. During this time her husband and his mother told her she wasn’t getting pregnant because she didn’t deserve to be a mom. She begged for one last treatment and, though she didn’t consider herself to be religious, started praying for a miracle baby. After eight years, Lizbeth finally got pregnant with a baby girl.

    Having a baby brought joy back to Lizbeth’s life, but unfortunately it did not help her marriage. There were new arguments about the baby disrupting her husband’s sleep, or Lizbeth not doing more around the house. He started smoking again, drinking more and coming home late. That’s when the abuse turned physical.

    In September of 2016 Lizbeth received a text message from a woman who said she was having an affair with her husband. Although she didn’t directly confront him about it, she did question his faithfulness to their marriage when he refused to let her borrow his cell phone one day. He then tried to strangle her in front of their four-year-old daughter.

    “He had me held by my neck against the wall, then he put me on the floor, holding me by my neck with one hand with his other hand in a fist saying he was going to break my face. I could hear my daughter screaming in the background saying, ‘No, Daddy, no!’ As soon as he released me, I got up, grabbed my daughter’s hand, and ran through the back door to the neighbor to call the police.”

    After the incident, Child Protective Services referred Lizbeth to The Family Place where she and her daughter began counseling. Her daughter had been afraid of everything from loud noises to using the bathroom by herself because she thought her father might be hiding there, but counseling helped her overcome these fears.

    “This organization helped me get back on my feet after a difficult situation that destroyed me emotionally. Everything I endured brought me closer to God, and now I believe in Him,” she says. “I want to thank the Family Place for staying with me and giving me support through this entire difficult journey.”

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Tamica Battie

    by Emily Roberts | Oct 02, 2018

    Tamica Battie grew up the oldest of three sisters and a brother. Like so many of our clients, throughout her childhood, she watched her mother go through many abusive relationships. Her mom suffered from both mental illness and substance abuse, so Tamica, her sisters and brother were shuffled in and out of foster care and stayed with various family members. When she was only 12, Tamica was left by herself to care for her siblings, who were all under age 10. She experienced sexual assault for many years, victimized by those close to her, but she never received help.

    As a teenager Tamica longed to be loved, so she began to look for that in men. At 17 she had her first run-in with the law, was charged as an adult, put on probation, and kicked out of DISD. She became depressed and tried to commit suicide, writing a note and taking a bottle of Tylenol. When she woke up, she decided to move in with a 27-year-old man.

    Still Tamica was determined to finish high school. She started online classes but was moving from one bad relationship to another. She had her first child in 2004. A few years later, she was introduced to The Family Place after an altercation with her boyfriend. Working to move forward, she continued her studies at El Centro College and Cedar Valley College.

    In 2012 Tamica married an abuser, thinking he had changed. After six months, the abuse began again, and she knew she had to get out of the relationship for the sake of her children. She came back to The Family Place for counseling, filed for divorce, and started her own janitorial service. Her business grew to serve many clients, including Parkland Hospital.

    Tamica says counseling at The Family Place helped her heal from the inside out and gave her the tools she needed to become victorious over abuse. She is now a strong advocate for victims of domestic violence. The Illustrious Angels of Faith have honored her as Survivor of the Year. She is a member of Toastmasters and is continuing her education at Paul Quinn college studying Business Administration and Fundraising and Philanthropy.

    In the future, Tamica hopes to start a nonprofit to help those suffering from domestic violence, homelessness and mental illness. She likes to say, “When you learn to dance in the rain, no storm can rain on your parade!”

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: SPCA of Texas

    by Emily Roberts | Sep 21, 2018

    Barking and meowing are not noises you would expect to hear when walking through a shelter for victims of domestic violence, however, you hear them at Ann Moody Place. Thanks to a partnership with the SPCA of Texas, our clients have a place to house their beloved animals. For many victims, this can be a deciding factor to leave a violent home.

    According to the National LINK Coalition, researchers have found correlations between animal abuse, domestic violence and other forms of violence. Animal abuse is often an indicator or warning sign that other family members in the household may be in danger. Nationally, about 71% of pet owners entering domestic violence shelters report that their abuser had threatened, injured or killed family pets as well, and 55% of victims report that their pets are important sources of emotional support. National statistics show that 25% to 40% of domestic violence victims are unable to escape their abusers because they worry about what will happen to their pets if they leave.

    Feedback from our clients brought heightened attention to the need for this service, which led to an exciting partnership between the SPCA of Texas and The Family Place.

    “The SPCA of Texas is always eager to partner with other organizations to promote keeping pets with their people,” says Maura Davies, Vice President for Communications for the SPCA of Texas. “When we learned of the opportunity to partner with The Family Place to build these pet kennels, we were thrilled to help keep pets and victims of domestic violence together in a safe environment where they can best emotionally support each other and begin the healing process. We want to help stop the violence that often affects multiple family members.”


  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Mike Gayler

    by TFP User 1 | Aug 30, 2018

    In 1988 Mike Gayler met The Family Place’s Executive Director Diane McGauley through a coworker at Coopers & Lybrand, Tom Eschenbrenner, who was a board member of The Family Place. Mike started volunteering and soon became a part of a team that opened our first Resale Shop.

    “At the time, The Family Place was receiving more donations of clothing and furniture than we could use,” Mike says. “We didn’t have the space to store it, so we gave some of the donations to other organizations to sell in their thrift stores. But we desperately needed the money since donations were scarce, and we also wanted a place for our families to shop since many left their homes with only the clothes they were wearing.”

    A team of volunteers, including Mike, attorney Holly Farabee, and The Container Store founder Garrett Boone, among others, initially raised seed capital for the store by having a huge garage sale.

    “One hot summer day just before the garage sale, the owner of a big home in Highland Park donated a large number of items including furniture, art and clothes. We rented a box truck and enlisted a fraternity at SMU to help us move,” Mike says.

    When the fraternity guys didn’t show up, Mike and three women volunteers, in dresses, loaded that truck over the next four hours, finishing the job and ultimately enabling the garage sale to raise enough money to open the store.

    “Our goal for the first year was to raise $25,000,” Mike says. “We met our goal in the first month we were open.”

    Last year The Family Place opened a second Resale Boutique in McKinney, and our two thrift stores now raise significant funds for the organization and provide vouchers to nearly 500 families each year who received clothing and furniture to start new lives free from violence.

    Mike, now a Consulting Partner with the full service public accounting firm of Montgomery Coscia Greilich LLP, also helped start Helping Hands for the Family Place, our first young professionals organization.

    “My initial role was volunteer coordinator, which our then-president, Paige Flink, described as an ‘easy job.’ A few weeks after accepting the role, The Family Place became the beneficiary of the Hoop It Up three-on-three basketball tournament, and I was charged with getting 1,500 people to volunteer over the three-day period. Those were the fun days!” he says.

    Mike stayed involved with The Family Place for many years serving in various roles including treasurer of the board of directors and helping open our Metrocrest Outreach Center.

    “I loved our mission and working with the volunteers,” he says, “including Paige Flink, Peter Weinstock, July Boles, Sue Stabor, Cary Tassopolas and so many others.”

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Ms. Barbara, aka “Grandma”

    by Emily Roberts | Aug 23, 2018

    Since 2010 there has been one constant friendly face in the nursery at The Family Place Safe Campus. This is Ms. Barbara, aka Grandma. Her loving demeanor with kids, specifically babies, has earned her this deserving nickname.

    “I started volunteering in the baby room at the Child Development Center. It’s the best room,” Barbara says.

    This is not Barbara’s first time working with kids. She was a pediatric nurse for over 20 years and ran an in-home daycare for 14 years.

    “Children are my passion and my heart,” she says. “They give me a reason to get up. My favorite part about working with these babies is watching them grow, and seeing how they change. You never know what they’ve been through, or why they might be acting a certain way. You have to remember what they might have seen. My favorite part is just watching them and trying to make a difference.”

    “I had this one little boy I fell in love with, Matthew. I still hope I’ll run into him someday. He was absolutely my baby,” she says. “His mom was pregnant when they came in, and he was only one when she had another child. He had a lot of anger problems.”

    We’re thankful that Barbara plans to continue volunteering with the babies in the nursery as the caring grandmother figure to little ones who need her love. Volunteers like her make it possible for clients to attend counseling, train for better jobs, and rebuild their lives, knowing their children are surrounded by love.

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Natalie Jones

    by Emily Roberts | Aug 16, 2018

    Natalie Jones had a good life, but when she became pregnant in 2009 things changed. She was laid off from her job, lost her car, was in the process of losing her home and her credit. On top of that, she started having problems with the father of her children when she found out that he was engaged to another woman. He and his fiancé would even write her letters telling her that she should end her life and the lives of her unborn twins.

    After Natalie’s girls were born she forgave their father and gave him a chance to be a part of their lives. However, he began verbally abusing her and controlling all that she did.

    “I was told I wasn’t good enough, I needed to make this or that change, and that my clothes were wrong. He even went as far as to criticize how I mothered my babies—nothing was up to his standards. He played mind-control games and used harsh words and extremely loud tones to intimidate me and my babies. From the time I knew I was pregnant in 2009 throughout 2010, I was reduced to a puppet, and he was the puppeteer.”

    Although the abuse was never physical, Natalie’s mother encouraged her to come to The Family Place to meet with a counselor. She shared her story and enrolled that day.

    “Each week I was with other ladies, young and old, of all races and socio-economic backgrounds, who’d experienced much more trauma than me. However, we all had the same common denominator—the perpetrator wanted control of us and he/she used words and body language to beat us down.”

    Natalie says she didn’t realize how beaten down she was until she saw others going through similar situations. She eventually found her voice and became a survivor and now an advocate.

    “I want everyone to know that it’s not just hitting someone that makes it domestic violence. Demeaning words, foul body language, questions of your integrity and character, non-support and withholding financial support that are done to manipulate, control, dominate and intimidate you are all types of domestic violence, too. Domestic violence can be mental, emotional, physical, financial, spiritual and sexual.”

    Natalie picked up the pieces of her life. She became a licensed CPR trainer, is a Meals on Wheels vendor and is currently working on a dealership/title service. She is a member of Toastmasters and is the resident pastor of Zoë Church in Hutchins, TX serving under her mom, Dr. Brenda Jones. Her twins are now eight years old, and she even educates them about domestic violence so they will not become victims.

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Eddie Coker

    by Emily Roberts | Aug 06, 2018

    Eddie Coker was an opera singer when Pepsi KidAround started in 1992. But he had written three children’s songs and pitched Pepsi KidAround organizer Paige Flink, then Director of Community Education for The Family Place, on being a part of the show.

    “That first year was the shortest children’s concert ever,” Coker says. “But by the next year, I had come out with my first children’s album, and the rest is history.”

    Coker credits Pepsi KidAround for sparking a change in his career at the same time it increased awareness of The Family Place. The signature event, held Labor Day weekend until 2005, brought musicians, puppeteers, storytellers and fun activities together to entertain families. So many of The Family Place’s supporters grew up with the event, bringing their small children, who are now college grads with fond memories of listening to Coker.

    “It was so much fun to be given the opportunity,” Coker says. “I had no clue how to be a performer for children other than to be an idiot. I remember being there and singing my song “Becky,” kind of an ode to Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” about an alligator named Becky. I got a dad up on stage to play the alligator, and everyone loved it. I realized people like to participate! Pepsi KidAround was an important part of learning my craft.”

    Since those days, Coker, an award-winning singer, songwriter, and performer, has created the “Weird, Wild World of Eddie Coker” for Disney, recorded 100s of songs for children and their families, gained a huge following on SiriusXM Radio, and has entertained well over a 1,000,000 children nationwide as a live concert artist.

    He also founded The Wezmore Project, which teaches children, teens, families and educators about emotional wholeness and emotional intelligence to help kids stop hurting. He’s sung to 60,000 kids in the last two years through the project that seeks to prevent self-harm and suicide.

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Fanchon Scaife

    by Emily Roberts | Aug 01, 2018

    Fanchon Scaife first experienced an abusive relationship when she was in junior high school. Many other abusive relationships followed, each with a different face. The most threatening came when her daughter’s father beat and tried to suffocate her. Her daughter was not present at the time, but the aftermath of the incident affected not only her and her daughter but also others close to them. Even her employer felt threatened by Fanchon’s abuser.

    As she was in the process of healing from the abusive relationships, Fanchon met a counselor from The Family Place at a church meeting. She and her daughter started attending individual and group counseling sessions at our Southern Dallas Counseling Center.

    “It helped immensely to personally know, listen and talk to others who had gone through similar situations,” she says. “We grew tremendously through that life experience by utilizing the tools we were given at The Family Place, many of which focused on self-esteem.”

    Fanchon now owns Heaven's Jewel, a T-shirt business that promotes women’s empowerment, and Heaven's Jewel Estates, a real estate investing/ broker business. She has written a children's book entitled I'm Not Afraid of You and is a member of The Family Place’s Ladies of Leadership and Toastmasters.

    "The goal is to shine light from my core,” Fanchon says. “Instead of letting the layers of hard times in my life dim my light, I choose to turn them into mirrors that reflect and enhance it, all by the power of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”


  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Sherry Lundberg

    by Emily Roberts | Jul 25, 2018

    Sherry Lundberg joined The Family Place in 1984 as a Case Manager in the North Dallas Help Center, which was the precursor to our Battering Intervention & Prevention Program (BIPP). A licensed professional counselor with a master’s degree in Psychology, she brought a clinical perspective to family violence work, which had primarily grown out of the women’s movement. When Sherry became Program Director in 1985, a role she would hold until 1996, her clinical background shaped the program, which was at the forefront of work with abusers.

    “In the early days of the men’s program, there was a big emphasis on education,” Sherry says. “We focused on the clergy, the medical community, suicide and crisis centers, and the gay and lesbian community to talk about detection and intervention. We worked with the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Visiting Nurses Association to try bring family violence into the light. We wanted as many people as possible to know how to recognize family violence and where they could get help.”

    Sherry worked with a professor at UT Southwestern, Alvin North, to develop the Lundberg-North Inventory of Psychological abuse, a checklist for adults that became a mainstay in family violence education and counseling. She also developed a resource brochure for teens called “Love Does Not Need to Hurt,” and a resource book for the clergy called “Stopping Abuse in the Family: What Can Faith Communities Do?”

    In 1993, the Texas Legislature authorized family violence offenders to be referred to battering treatment as part of probation, and program development work grew in Texas. By that point, The Family Place, with Sherry in a leadership role, had much knowledge to share. Sherry went on to serve on the state committee that developed standards for BIPP programs. Those standards later drove the requirements for BIPP accreditation, and, in 2009, The Family Place BIPP became one of the first providers in Texas to become fully accredited under new state guidelines. In 2017, our BIPP program provided 12,805 service hours to 628 men, 133 women and 15 adolescents. The majority of clients are court ordered to counseling, and the program continues to be one of the premier service providers in Texas.

    Since she left The Family Place, Sherry has been in private practice in Dallas serving a wide variety of clients.

    “I still love doing what I do,” she says. “I never have gotten burned out. I’m realistic about what I can do and about what the client can do. When you work inside of that space, you can feel successful.”

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Josie Horn

    by Emily Roberts | Jul 18, 2018

    Josie Horn grew up in Dallas watching her father abuse her mother. She graduated from Mountain View Community College with a degree in Business Administration and later married and had three children. Shortly after getting married, her husband went into the ministry and began to abuse Josie psychologically and spiritual.

    Josie lost her mom to an aneurysm and her sister to ovarian cancer in the span of a few years. During this time her husband started doing drugs and their church started the process to vote him out as pastor.

    “I didn't know which way to turn, and I honestly thought I was losing my mind,” Josie says. “It was blow after blow after blow. I didn't have anyone to talk to, I didn't know where to go, and I definitely couldn't explain what I was feeling. Eventually I was diagnosed with manic depression.”

    When an advocate from The Family Place spoke at her office in 2001, Josie realized she was in a crisis and began to relive the pain and turmoil from her childhood and abusive marriage. Her divorce was final by this point, but through counseling at The Family Place, she realized her life still had a purpose.

    “All of the things I have experienced have helped build my confidence and make me a stronger individual,” she says. “The Family Place is a place you can go to for help, shelter, leadership and sponsorship. It has made a tremendous impact in my life by letting me know that no matter what circumstance I go through, I have the power inside to overcome every obstacle.”

    Josie was The Family Place’s Survivor of the Year in 2008 and shared her story on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. She is a member of The Family Place’s Ladies of Leadership group and Toastmaster’s International, and is writing a book about her experiences so that other women will know that they are not alone.


  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: The Hoglund Foundation

    by Emily Roberts | Jul 05, 2018

    Since we opened the Sally’s House emergency shelter building at our Safe Campus in 2000, The Hoglund Foundation has been one of our most generous supporters, and the Hoglund family has included our clients in many of their family celebrations. The family has held many Easter egg hunts for the kids, provided lunch to families on Mother’s Day, and even held a surprise birthday party for Sally Hoglund’s 80th birthday at the Safe Campus emergency shelter.

    For the birthday celebration, Sally’s 10 grandkids, the junior board of The Hoglund Foundation, picked her up and brought her to celebrate her birthday with all of the families at the campus with Pokey O’s ice cream sandwiches, arts and crafts, and lots of balloons. The family honored Sally and The Family Place with a donation to continue the good work at the Safe Campus. The Hoglund Foundation was also a major donor to our capital campaign to build Ann Moody Place.

    Sally and Forrest Hoglund created The Hoglund Foundation in 1989 to help others. Since its inception, the foundation has grown dramatically and contributed more than $40 million in grants to organizations focusing on education and family support systems. Together Sally Hoglund and Sally Johnson were founding co-chairs of the Partners Card, which has raised millions of dollars for programs at The Family Place over the last 25 years.

    "It has been so rewarding to see the growth of The Family Place over the years,” says Sally. “What a special place and what a special CEO. Paige Flink does an outstanding job, and we are lucky to have her. Thanks to everyone involved!"

    Join us in thanking the Hoglunds for their unwavering support and generous family traditions!

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Kager Howard

    by Emily Roberts | Jun 29, 2018

    Kager Howard swore she would never be a victim of domestic violence before she even knew there was a name for it. But she did. Kager heard about The Family Place from a volunteer while seeking counseling for her 12-year-old daughter who had witnessed Kager being abused. Soon Kager began going to counseling as well and was a client at our Southern Dallas Counseling Center for two years.

    "The counselor was instrumental in helping me discover who I was and how to start loving myself. The-group meetings were life changing," she says. "Being able to talk to someone who understood without judgement created an atmosphere for self growth, truth and healing."

    One night in 2006, Kager had dinner with a friend and made plans to see her again the next weekend. When it came time to see her again Kager could not reach her—her friend’s ex-husband had killed her the night after they had dinner.

    "Her death devastated me and caused me to shut down for several years thinking I could have done more," Kager says. "I no longer walk in shame or fear but I choose to speak out in hope that my story can influence others to make the decision to get out before it's too late."

    Kager is now a member of The Family Place’s Ladies of Leadership and says the group has been instrumental in helping her overcome the fear of speaking publicly against domestic violence. 

    "I am forever grateful to The Family Place for inspiring my desire to help victims of domestic violence Get Out, Stay out and Pay Out," she says. "We do this by healing ourselves and others and not becoming victims again."


  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Paige Flink

    by Emily Roberts | Jun 21, 2018

    Paige Flink’s original role at The Family Place was as a volunteer. She began as part of a group organizing a new young professionals organization in 1989, Helping Hands, and became its president in 1990.

    “I visited the shelter in Oak Cliff, and just couldn’t believe women had to abandon their homes, bringing their clothes with them in black trash bags, and live in a place with bars on the windows all because they were afraid of someone who was supposed to love them,” Paige, now CEO of The Family Place, says.

    Paige Flink and sons Alex and Mason

    In 1991, Paige joined the staff, became our Director of Community Education, and started to increase awareness about family violence in general and The Family Place in particular through events that would grow into some of the most successful in the city—Pepsi KidAround, Palm Night and Partners Card, just to name a few. When she joined the staff, Paige was a young wife and mother with two boys—Mason, 3, and Alex, three months. She had a degree in fashion merchandising and strong sales experience. She didn’t know much about family violence, but she did know how to tell a story.

    “I guess what I brought to The Family Place was I had the ability to sell the cause,” Paige says. “I could share compelling stories about people who didn’t have a voice at the moment.”


    Through it all, Paige says, it was important to have men in her life—her sons and her husband, Randy—who supported her while she gave her all to help victims working to escape abuse. Today her sons are 30 and 27, and she says they consider themselves feminists. Paige is proud of that and of the relationships she’s built over the years through The Family Place.

    “There are volunteers and donors who started when I did who still support The Family Place,” she says. “The willingness of these people to stay involved has paved our road to success. When I started this work, family violence had no news coverage. Then in 1994 came the gruesome murder of  Nicole Brown Simpson, which focused enormous attention on the problem. Since then The Family Place has emerged as a reputable expert in the field both locally and nationally, sharing our knowledge about how services for domestic violence victims can be improved. Laws have been written to protect victims, and the community has joined us in believing that domestic violence is a cause to support. We’ve gone from having an emergency shelter with 40 beds and one counseling office to having three shelters with 178 beds, 25 transitional housing apartments and four counseling offices. When I look back, that progress is definitely rewarding.”
  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Connie Nash

    by Emily Roberts | Jun 05, 2018

    Connie Nash came to The Family Place in 2000 after her husband of 25 years attempted to kill her. Had it not been for her 16-year-old son Daniel jumping on his father's back, her husband would have shot her in the head. Her husband went to jail, and Connie and her son found The Family Place and began their journey to recovery.

    When Connie began counseling, her self-esteem was extremely low. During her marriage, her husband isolated her from the outside world. She didn’t know how to buy groceries or manage money. The only time she was allowed to leave home was to go to church on Wednesdays and Sundays and an occasional visit to her mother-in-law’s house.

    Within a year of counseling at the Family Place, Connie learned to like herself again and remembered what self-worth was. Not only did she learn to manage money, but also she landed a job with one of the top five accounting firms in the world: KPMG.

    Connie joined Toastmasters, which taught her how to have confidence and speak with power.  She realized sharing her story could help other domestic violence survivors. She began speaking as a client advocate for The Family Place on radio, television and in public forums. She advanced in Toastmasters and become Area Governor, President of two clubs and earned a Distinguished Toastmasters Award for giving over 50 speeches, which only 10% of all Toastmasters worldwide achieve. She served on The Family Place Board of Directors for over six years and assisted in fundraising by holding fundraiser for the our Southern Sector office that raised over a thousand dollars.

    Connie later started her own gift basket business and remarried. Her son is now married and has a young son. Connie is now writing a book to share her story!

    “I am back to being the person I knew and loved,” Connie says. “I still speak at functions, mainly churches, to raise awareness of spiritual abuse and help make a change in people’s lives. I’m happy and fulfilling my purpose in life—sharing my story and make a difference in the lives of others.”

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Sonya Burkins

    by Emily Roberts | May 31, 2018

    Sonya Burkins learned about The Family Place after her ex-husband attempted to take her life. Although it was an isolated event, her son was left traumatized. Sonya was apprehensive about counseling, but she knew her son needed to heal so they both began counseling sessions.

    Sonya says the conversations she had in counseling opened her eyes and broadened her view of abuse.

    “Abuse comes in many forms, shapes and sizes,” Sonya explains. “Many believe that the only form of abuse is physical, but that’s not accurate. In many cases, abuse slowly grows until it explodes. When a seed is planted and watered, it will grow overt time. Many individuals will overlook the planting seasons of things like financial abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse and verbal abuse. The truth is these are considered to be ‘red flags’. Unfortunately, in many cases those are the starting points to physical abuse.”

    Now, Sonya has picked up the pieces and moved forward with her life. She has degrees in both business and psychology and serves with The Family Place on the leadership team in the Southern Sector outreach office.  Sonya has coined the name “Starlight” for herself because she uses her experience to shed light on domestic violence and raise awareness on abuse.

    “I am more than my story. I am a living testimony that with the help of The Family Place and the Lord, I have beaten the odds,” Sonya says. “It’s important to continue to share and help shed light on the different forms of abuse and help those who think they do not have the ability to remove themselves from an abusive situation believe that they do. They need to know that they can become a Starlight, too!”

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Debra Mitchell-Ibe

    by Emily Roberts | May 24, 2018

    “I have had a career that most people would have to move around to several agencies to have,” says Debra Mitchell-Ibe, who has been at The Family Place for more than 30 years.

    Debra started at our emergency shelter as a counselor, and then became Hotline Manager, Assistant Shelter Director and Shelter Director before becoming Program Manager for our Outreach Counseling Program. There she was a part of the creation of our Latino Program and our expansion into the Metrocrest after a domestic violence death in the area.

    “We originally developed our community-based counseling program because statistics showed that African American victims were utilizing our shelter but not counseling services,” she says, “so we also started a counseling program in South Dallas.”

    The START family violence education program—now called the Be Project—also began during Debra’s time as Program Director when a staff person saw a need to reach high school kids. Currently she is Senior Director of Training and Education and is passing on her extensive knowledge to our entire staff.

    “I loved all the positions I have been fortunate to have,” she says. “My favorite part has been the educational aspect of working with families, staff and the community to educate, empower and end domestic violence. I think I had the most fun assisting in the creation of events to reach families impacted by domestic violence.”

    “I have had the great fortune to have wonderful staff and mentors. I carry the stories of victims who have shared their experiences and educated me about how to help,” she says.

    One of the most memorable clients was a woman who came to the shelter badly beaten on Christmas Day.

    “It was heartbreaking to think at a time when we celebrate peace on earth that we do not have peace in our homes,” Debra says.

    Another unforgettable client was during her time supervising our children’s program. A four-year-old boy came into counseling after he had been expelled from school for a second time. Using “coloring book” therapy, he began to tell his story. Debra always asked children what they learned in school. Children of this age would often say things like the ABCs and how to count, and Debra would add that they also learned how to line up and walk in line to lunch, the library etc. At this little boy’s school, the walk to the cafeteria went by the front exit of the school. During therapy, he told Debra that he ran out the door because he needed to find his mother.

    “At four he knew that going out the door would cause a chain reaction that included his mother being called and summoned to the school. Then he would be sent home with her to think about his behavior. What no one in the system asked was why did he have a need to find his mother,” Debra says.

    Through the pictures drawn, Debra learned that the boy’s father would strangle his mother until she passed out, making him think she was dead. Being away from her at school caused extreme anxiety. He wanted to make sure his mother was still alive, but he couldn’t verbalize it. No one at school was looking further than calling his mother and sending him home with her, she says.

    The hardest counseling session Debra remembers involved a 12-year-old boy who was brought to counseling by his grandmother. His father had killed his mother in front of him and his sister and had shot him.

    “It was so hard to listen to the pain of the grandmother receiving a call at work that her only child and two of her three grandchildren had been shot,” Debra says. “The children were taken to one hospital and her daughter to another. She had to make the hard decision to go to the hospital with her grandchildren while her daughter died before she could make it to see her.”

    “I have so many success stories I could tell,” Debra says, “but these difficult ones are the ones that remind me why I do what I do—because adults and children should not have to suffer in this way!”

  • 40 Stories for 40 Years: Kimberly Johnson

    by Emily Roberts | May 16, 2018

    Kimberly Johnson thought her abusive boyfriend would change when they got married, but as soon as she said “I do” the abuse became even worse. She watched her sons become angry with her husband and knew she had to leave before the abuse started affecting them.

    One night she saw a commercial for The Family Place, and she wrote down the hotline number and called the next day. Our hotline counselor explained that if she came to the shelter, she would have to cut all ties with her husband, something she was not sure if she could do after trying and failing in the past.

    Two days later Kimberly called back and we had an opening at the shelter, so she prepared to leave. When her husband left for work the next day, she and her children left for the shelter. Although leaving was difficult, when she saw the look of relief on her sons’ faces, she knew she had made the right decision. With The Family Place’s help, Kimberly got an apartment and never returned to her abuser.

    “Through the counseling and other services provided at The Family Place, I learned that I am worthy of love without violence of any kind, and that I am enough,” Kimberly says.

    This year, many years after coming to The Family Place as a client, Kimberly returned as an intern. She will receive a bachelor’s degree in Human Service in December of 2018.

    “I came to The Family Place to give back what was so freely given to me,” she says. “I am extremely grateful for the services rendered to me because I would not have made it if this agency wasn’t here.”

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