• Be Project Presents 3rd Annual MUSIC 4 CHANGE Concert on Saturday, May 10

    by Emily Roberts | May 05, 2014
    Dallas Teens Host FREE Concert to end Bullying and Relationship Violence 
    Be Project to Host 3rd Annual Music4Change Concert on May 10, 2014

    WHAT: Music 4 Change is back! Be Project, an initiative of The Family Place, will host its 3rd annual Music 4 Change (M4C) Concert at The Underground at South Side on Lamar this Saturday, May 10th, 2014. Music 4 Change is a FREE concert for youth, and will offer a fun way to come together, stand up against violence and celebrate healthy relationships. The concert features local, signed teen artists as well as up-and-coming youth talent who promote a positive message.  
    1 in 3 teens will experience an abusive relationship by the time they graduate high school and 85% of students witness bullying in their schools. This concert - planned by teens FOR teens - is instrumental in increasing the dialogue between youth about bullying and dating violence. It will offer them a safe place to stand up against violence and let their voices be heard.

    Since 1999, The Be Project has worked in the community to empower students to end relationship violence. Last year we worked with over 6,000 students - teaching them how to promote healthy relationships in their communities. For more information, please visit the Be Project website at www.familyplacebeproject.org or the Music4Change Facebook Event Page. 

    WHEN: Saturday, May 10, 2014 | 1:30-4PM

    WHERE: The Underground at South Side on Lamar | 1409 S Lamar Street, Dallas, TX

    CONTACT: Liz Ferrigno, Be Project | 972.243.1611| beproject@familyplace.org

    ABOUT: The Be Project: Empowering Youth to be Part of the Solution to End Relationship Violence

    The Be Project, an initiative of The Family Place, provides classroom-based education and therapeutic groups to children and youth in 3rd-12th grades, as well as to college students. For more information, visit www.familyplacebeproject.org. 

  • 2014 Texas Trailblazer Awards Luncheon Date and Location Revealed

    by Emily Roberts | Apr 29, 2014

    The Family Place Letter Signing Indicates Something Is Up For Trailblazer Awards Luncheon

    April 28, 2014
    by Jeanne Prejean

    Just back from a letter signing at Margaret Hancock’s dining room table. With Jack the itty-bitty Yorkie circling the table and baby Hewitt Seay doing the guy-thing of hanging out in his baby-mobile, the gals at the table were furiously providing their John Hancocks and notes to a passel of letters that will drop very soon.

    And what is the news that will be revealed? So far after bribing and begging, the only info provided is that the letter deals with The Family Place’s Texas Trailblazer Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, September 17. We managed to get out that it will take place at the Anatole. Then it was an “oops” moment, when a letter passed by and it was noted that the event co-chairs are Stephanie and Travis Hollman and Hewitt’s mom Stephanie Seay and grandestma Carol Seay.

    Have offered a new squeeze toy to Hewitt to find out more deets. Hewitt claimed he had all the toys a guy needed. Nope. He’s holding out for toy plus a Kalfin black diamond pacifier. Stay tuned. His people are talking to our people.

    Read the full article and see photos at MySweetCharity.com.

  • 12 Incredible Things You Have Done - 2013 At A Glance

    by Emily Roberts | Apr 23, 2014

    12 Incredible Things You've Done

    Why The Family Pace? Because we will never give up.

    We wanted to share and celebrate what you made possible. In 2013, The Family Place provided 11,758 clients with 171,968 hours of service.

    One thing's for sure - we will never give up until all victims can lead a life free from violence.

    The end of domestic violence will not be a quick victory, but it can be done. Standing together with you, we are an unwavering force to end this epidemic.

    We would not have the opportunity to do what we do without you. Join us as we continue in our mission to end family violence.

    2013 At A Glance - Why The Family Place

    Thank you for being part of the solution to end family violence.

  • 2014 Partners Card Kick-Off Party and Shopping Dates Announced

    by Emily Roberts | Apr 23, 2014

    The Family Place Announces 2014 Partners Card Kick-Off Party & Shopping Dates

    April 23, 2014
    by Lisa Petty
    DFW Style Daily

    Few events are anticipated by North Texas shoppers quite like The Family Place Partners Card time. The annual program equals a Metroplex-wide shop-a-thon at more than 750 participating retailers. And it’s all for a wonderful cause.

    Since launching in 1992, Partners Cards have raised over $14 million dollars for The Family Place. Netting consumers a 20% discount for a 10-day period at hundreds of participating area businesses, the cards are good toward purchases at boutiques, restaurants, spas, and much more.

    In addition to a substantial boost for local businesses (participants all report sales “well above normal” during Partners Card time), proceeds from card sales benefit Dallas’ largest domestic violence agency. To date, The Family Place has sheltered more than 21,000 woman and children, and has answered more than 530,000 calls for help.

    On Thursday, May 1, join The Family Place and Bank of Texas to kick-off the 2014 Partners Card program at Galleria Dallas. On the Alley (adjacent to the Grill on the Alley restaurant), guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and entertainment from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Following this kick-off celebration, the 10-day Partners Card shopping event will take place October 24 – November 2, 2014. Cards will go on sale later this year. Congratulations to The Family Place from all of us at DFW Style Daily!

    For more information on next week’s kick-off event, visit PartnersCard.org or the DFW Style Daily Event Calendar.

    Read the full article at DFW Style Daily.

  • Deadly Affection Part 4 - Making Sense of the Unfathomable - in The Dallas Morning News

    by Emily Roberts | Apr 23, 2014

    Deadly Affection:Part 4 - Making sense of the unfathomable

    The Dallas Morning News

    Experts say children who lose a parent at the hands of a loved one struggle with anger, fear and loss

    Every day a half dozen Americans die at the hands of someone they love. Most of them are women. Many are parents.

    Kids who have lost a parent to an intimate partner know a peculiar kind of agony. They are hobbled by grief for the victim, bewildered by the killer and terrified of what it means. Where will they live? Who will love them? Are they destined to repeat the pattern and become an abuser or a victim? How do they relate to the killer?

    “You’re grieving the loss of the victim, you’re grieving the loss of the person who did it ... that the world isn’t just, it’s not fair, that bad things can happen to people who don’t deserve it,” said Nicole Holmes, a psychologist with Friends of the Family, which provides services to victims of domestic violence in Denton. “It shakes your whole world view.”

    Overcoming such a tragedy at an early age is possible but painful. The bloodstains fade, but the horror lingers. So do the questions. The following stories of three families at different stages of recovery offer a glimpse of the toll taken by domestic violence fatalities.

    “Why did they die?”

    LTTLE ELM – A little over a year has passed since “the incident.”

    That’s what David Chomitzky calls his daughter’s murder.

    He doesn’t call it an accident because he won’t lie to his grandson. But he hasn’t told the boy his father shot his mother before committing suicide, because that’s impossible for a 7-year-old to fathom.

    It’s not much easier for a 63-year-old man. “They say time heals all wounds,” Chomitzky said recently. “But right now it’s still bleeding. It’s hard to get up in the morning.”

    He worries about raising his orphaned grandson. And he is haunted by the fact that even though he was just a few feet away when his daughter was killed, “I wasn’t there to stop it.”

    His daughter, Bethany, and her husband, Rob, had moved to Texas from Pennsylvania in the summer of 2012 for a fresh start. Bethany asked her father and his longtime girlfriend, Ellen, to join them in Texas. Since Chomitzky was close to his grandson, they agreed.

    The boy is being called “John” in this story because Chomitzky asked that he not be identified.

    When Rob and Bethany couldn’t work out their differences, the couple separated. Bethany, 33, and John lived with Chomitzky and Ellen.

    Chomitzky knew the separation had been tense but didn’t learn until later that Bethany was “deathly afraid” of her estranged husband. After Rob moved out, she wanted the locks changed so he couldn’t drop by unexpectedly. She switched phone companies to avoid Rob’s constant calls, but Chomitzky didn’t know Rob waited for her after work so often that she transferred to another location. Bethany sought a protective order but didn’t tell Chomitzky why.

    “I wish she would have told me more,” he said. “I might have been more cautious.”

    John was in the backyard playing with a friend when his father came to get his mother’s signature on some legal papers that day.

    Chomitzky was breading chicken in the kitchen for dinner when Rob shot Bethany behind the ear, then shot himself.

    Counseling helps, but Chomitzky struggles with his own grief while trying to be there for John.

    He worries because sometimes “I see his dad’s behavior in him.” John likes to hit him, he said, so his counselor suggested he buy a punching bag.

    Not long ago John had been playing “cops and robbers” with other little boys, when he ran to his grandfather and “shot” him in the forehead with his thumb and forefinger.

    Two years ago that wouldn’t have bothered Chomitzky, who is a gun enthusiast. This time it “really freaked me out,” he said. “He has no idea the connection that made for me.”

    John talks about his mom, Chomitzky said, but rarely mentions his father. Chomitzky suspects John does that because Chomitzky initially responded to such comments with silence.

    But counselors told him that “children tend to identify with their parents, so ‘if Daddy’s bad, that means I’m bad,’” Chomitzky said. So he tries to say something good about Rob when pressed.

    “It’s really hard,” Chomitzky acknowledged. “But I feel I have to.”

    Chomitzky wonders when and what to tell John about how his parents died.

    Not long ago the boy asked, “Why did they die just filling out papers?”

    “We will never ever know the real, true reason,” Chomitzky replied. “All we know is it’s tragic.”

    Blood and brains spattered all over the dining room. As Chomitzky wailed, “No, no, no,” and punched a hole in the wall in anger, the boys ran into the house.

    John “saw his mom,” Chomitzky said. “He didn’t see his dad right away.”

    Chomitzky sent the boys upstairs.

    That night, John stayed with a friend; the next day he went to day care. “We tried to keep his routine as normal as possible,” Chomitzky said.

    Maintaining normalcy is hard. Even though the crime scene was cleaned by a forensic service, John “used to go to the chair where his mom died when he was upset,” Chomitzky said.

    Chomitzky said sometimes he still detects a slaughterhouse smell when he passes the room. He would like to move but doesn’t know if it’s a good idea to take John away from his friends and school.

    The past year has drawn the two of them closer, but he’s still not sure how his grandson feels. “Outwardly he seems happy,” he said. “But most people who see me think I seem happy too. I can’t see inside his head.”

    How to help a child after a domestic violence homicide

    • Place the child with other family members in a stable home. Shuttling a child between relatives or foster care can be traumatic.

    • One steady person, not necessarily the caregiver, who stays in touch with the child on a regular basis provides a much-needed anchor.

    • If a child wants to talk about what happened to their parent, let him do so. Silence is more traumatic.

    • Don’t make negative remarks about the killer. He or she is related to the child in some way, and the child may feel the comments pertain to him as well.

    • Find a counselor for the child and the caregiver who is trained to deal with trauma cases.

    • Counseling as an adult is helpful.

    Read the full article at Dallasnews.com.

  • Thank you to all for 2014 Easter Baskets

    by Emily Roberts | Apr 22, 2014
    Thank you to all of the individuals, companies and groups - including Aon Hewitt, Citibank US Employee Network Groups, Behringer Harvard Residential and Dallas Building Owners and Managers Association - that donated hundreds of Easter baskets and goodies to The Family Place this year! Your generosity is just amazing!

    You have made this Easter a special one for so many little kids!
  • Friday, April 18 - Neighborhood Heroes - Stories Told by The Family Place

    by Emily Roberts | Apr 17, 2014


    2014 The Family Place at Union - April 18

  • Dallas domestic violence suspect faces unprecedented bond

    by Emily Roberts | Apr 17, 2014

    Dallas domestic violence suspect faces unprecedented bond

    April 16, 2014
    by Rebecca Lopez

    DALLAS — Geandre Wallace has been in jail over and over and over again — four times for assaulting a woman.

    Police and prosecutors feel he is so dangerous, his bond was set at $1 million.

    "Never in my career have I heard a million dollar bond on a family violence case," said Paige Flink, executive director of The Family Place, a resource for victims of domestic violence.

    Wallace's latest target was his girlfriend. Court documents show he strangled her, kicked her in the face and knocked her unconscious last month.

    "The complainant's jaw was broken; she had to have screws in her mouth holding her jaw together," a police report stated.

    Police and prosecutors believe Wallace is such a threat that prosecutors requested the judge "put every condition you can on him, including GPS monitor. He told the arresting officer he is gathering bail money now so he can kill her when he bonds out."

    "In this situation, you see the repeat offenses... you see the threat to kill... you see the strangulation... you see the lethality markers," Flink said. "That's why they set the bond."

    For months, Dallas police, prosecutors, and victims' advocates have been meeting to identify women who are at the highest risk of being murdered.

    News 8 has learned that Dallas police have already been on 22 home visits to women they feel face the greatest potential danger.

    Police plan to monitor the victims closely to make sure they are safe, and to see what is happening with both the victim and the suspect. If they feel the victim needs more help, they will step in.

    Flink said the intervention team will also alert women that they could be in danger based on known indicators.

    Police say identifying high-risk victims is still a work in progress because in 50 percent of domestic murder cases, the women have never called police.

    But the Dallas Police Department says its goal is to save as many victims as they can.

    Read more at WFAA.com.

  • Supreme Court keeps guns away from those guilty of domestic violence

    by Emily Roberts | Mar 28, 2014

    Great news for victims of domestic violence!

    Supreme Court keeps guns away from those guilty of domestic violence 

    March 26, 2014
    by David G. Savage
    Los Angeles Times

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday strengthened a federal law that bars anyone convicted of domestic violence from possessing a gun.

    In a 9-0 decision, the high court said the ban extended to anyone who had pleaded guilty to at least a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence, even in cases in which there was no proof of violent acts or physical injury.

    The ruling overturns decisions in several regions, including the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California, which had said the ban applied only to convictions that involved a "violent use of force."

    At issue was a 1996 law in which Congress expanded an existing ban that applied to anyone convicted of a felony in a domestic violence case to include misdemeanor convictions.

    "Domestic violence is not merely a type of 'violence,'" said Justice Sonia Sotomayor. "It is term of art encompassing acts that one might not characterize as 'violent' in a non-domestic context." It includes acts such as "pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping and hitting," she said.

    Read the full article at http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-court-guns-20140327,0,74538.story#ixzz2xIIb6II5.

  • It is time to Paint the Town Purple

    by Emily Roberts | Mar 28, 2014

    Paint the Town Purple - March 31 to April 2, 2014

    2014 Paint the Town Purple - March31-April2

  • Drop In Domestic Violence Related Homicides

    by Emily Roberts | Mar 12, 2014

    Abused Wife Murder Catalyst For Dallas Change
    Drop In Domestic Violence-Related Homicides

    March 11, 2014
    CBS DFW News

    A decrease in the number of domestic violence-related homicides are now traced back to one victim’s death in January 2013.

    Karen Cox Smith, a 40-year-old executive assistant at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas was gunned down as she left work. Her brutal slaying — and a series of domestic abuse deaths that followed — inspired Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings to declare a war on domestic violence last March at a rally in front of Dallas’ City Hall.

    “I was shocked by it,” said Mayor Rawlings.

    Smith turned to police in December of 2012 for help, breaking her silence after years of abuse at the hands of her husband.

    “She did everything she was supposed to do and it still didn’t matter,” according to Smith’s mother, Sara Horton.

    Horton shared e-mails her daughter sent police, looking for updates on her husband’s arrest at the time.

    One email read:

    “I am confident it will be soon, and my children and I can relocate and no loner live i fear.”

    Another email to a detective read:

    “The warrant team contacted me. They plan to pick him up in the morning at work. Thanks so much!”

    Thirty-five minutes later, Smith was dead — gunned down by her husband as she left work.

    “Shot her in the back and shot her in the face. It just took me back, and then we looked into the numbers,” said Rawlings.

    There were 31 domestic violence-related homicides in 2012. But Smith’s death struck a chord with city leaders and was the catalyst for change.

    “They have really tried very hard to fix some of these things, and I know that they felt terrible. I know that they did. They all said that,” said Horton.

    Dallas police tasked officers with cutting down the backlog of unserved domestic violence warrants. Detectives began screening victims, often handing them a phone with a emergency shelter dialed up. Police even started making visits to high risk victims this year. By next month, the DA’s office plans to begin accepting applications for protective orders online.

    “You put all those things together, and you start to make a dent,” said Mayor Rawlings.

    Police records show there’s already sign of progress. Last year, the number of family violence deaths dropped 26 percent. Thus far in 2014, it’s down another 33 percent.

    That’s welcome news for Smith’s mother, who’s determined to see change. “I want something good to come from her death. And certainly she would not want anyone else to go through what she went through,” she said.

    Click here to visit the city of Dallas’ domestic violence help page. It’s a comprehensive resource guide for those seeking help.

    Read full article at CBS DFW.

  • The Family Place Staff Meets Together at Annual All Staff Meeting

    by Emily Roberts | Mar 03, 2014

    "Truly, the work you do changes lives." - Connie Nash, survivor and speaker at The Family Place All Staff Meeting on February 28, 2014

    The Family Place All Staff Meeting Feb 2014

  • Dallas County Grand Jury declined to indict Judge Carlos Cortez

    by Emily Roberts | Mar 03, 2014
  • Save the Date: Music 4 Change by Be Project is on May 10

    by Emily Roberts | Mar 03, 2014
    Music 4 Change by Be Project - May 10, 2014
  • 8 Questions With The Family Place Executive Director Paige Flink

    by Emily Roberts | Mar 03, 2014

    8 Questions With The Family Place Executive Director Paige Flink

    February 2014
    by Dawn Tongish
    Southlake BubbleLife

    Say hello to Paige Flink, executive director of The Family Place; the largest family violence service provider in the Dallas area. Flink discovered her passion for empowering survivors of domestic abuse, while working as an up and coming advertising sales director for a regional magazine.  

    We wanted to get to know Flink a little better and she was gracious enough to answer a few questions about herself, The Family Place and the people it serves.  

    Dawn Tongish: Can you begin by telling us about The Family Place?

    Paige Flink: The Family Place was created because women were dying at the hands of men who were supposed to love them. Until our organization was established in 1978, there were no services in Dallas to help women and children escape abuse in their homes. Violence against women by a husband or boyfriend was considered a private family issue, not something the public was interested in addressing. There were few laws in Texas to protect a woman whose husband was beating her. Providing a hotline number and safe emergency shelter is where we started. Over the past 36 years, we have worked diligently to change public awareness of the negative impact of family violence on victims and the community as a whole and have added programs as our clients’ needs have changed and the community has recognized the need for the critical services we provide.

    Today The Family Place is the largest family violence service provider in the Dallas area. Of 250 shelter beds, we provide 106 of them. We empower victims of family violence by providing safe housing, counseling and skills that create independence while building community engagement and advocating for social change to stop family violence. Our long-term objective is to end the epidemic of relationship violence in our community. Dallas should be a place where children grow up in homes filled with love and respect. Every home a safe home is our goal. 

    DT: What are your duties at The Family Place?

    PF: Ultimately it’s my responsibility to ensure that our doors stay open to keep victims of family violence safe. That involves fundraising, hiring the right people, motivating staff and volunteers, educating the community, and developing programs that ultimately work to prevent family violence and reduce demand for our services in the future. I also see myself as an agent for social justice, from working with the criminal justice system to make improvements that will reduce the danger to victims to staying visible in the media to make sure the voices of victims are heard.

    DT: How did you become involved with The Family Place, and why are you so passionate about the work being done at the shelters?

    PF: In 1989, while working full-time as an advertising sales director for a regional magazine, I founded a young professionals auxiliary called Helping Hands for The Family Place and built the organization to several hundred dedicated members who volunteered for The Family Place’s fundraisers and programs. After the birth of my second child in 1991 I decided to focus my volunteer passion on helping women get back their voice and joined The Family Place as director of Community Education. I knew that educating the community was key to changing the community’s response to family violence, so we started Pepsi KidAround, a children’s music and art festival that became one of The Family Place’s signature fundraising events raising much-needed funds and attracting thousands of families each Labor Day Weekend for more than a decade. Young families that supported us then by attending with their children support us now by buying Partners Cards, writing generous checks and donating to our Resale Shop. We built a family of support, and that is lifesaving and life changing for our clients.

    DT: Why do you work in the nonprofit sector?

    PF: I know I am so lucky to have a job that gives me fulfillment every day. I want to live in a great city where people have a chance to achieve their potential. Family violence is an epidemic in our community and our country that effects many other problems—homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, school dropout and teen pregnancy rates, developmental problems with young children and so much more. I believe that the work we do at The Family Place positively impacts all of these other areas of need and strengthens individuals, families and our community as a whole. The feeling you get from using your skills to make a difference where it really counts is better than any paycheck.

    DT: It can be difficult for any nonprofit to pay the bills. How do you stay afloat?

    PF: Family violence is an issue where people know a contribution of any size can make an impact. And, Dallas has amazingly generous donors. We cast a wide net because it takes every donation from $20 to $200,000 to run The Family Place. We are fortunate to have generous and faithful donors, but I believe they are generous and faithful because we are diligent stewards of their gifts. We make sure we stretch every dollar. We evaluate every program to ensure they’re working, and we constantly make changes to improve them.

    DT: How can the people of Dallas and beyond help meet your needs for 2014? What are your biggest needs?

    PF: We served 12,000 people in 2013, and at least that many will be needing us again this year. Our most expensive programs are our residential programs, emergency shelter and transitional housing. It costs $70 to shelter a mother and child for one night, and we have a lot of nights ahead of us to make ends meet in 2014. Truly every gift helps us welcome those victims to safety with a warm meal, a comfortable bed, and a caring counselor to help start a path to a new life.

    DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at The Family Place?

    PF: My most memorable experience at The Family Place was the day we got Governor Rick Perry to pardon a woman who had murdered her horribly abusive husband in self defense. This woman had been on probation for many years and had raised the daughter who her husband had targeted for abuse into a healthy young adult. Then, immigration laws changed and she was about to be deported from a country where she had legally lived for 20 years. The only way she stay was if the charge was pardoned. And, amazingly, it was. That was quite a day.

    DT: What is the first thing you do when you walk into work each day?

    PF: I check the shelter census to see how many people we are housing and feeding and if we have any beds available for new clients who call needing our help. Then next, of course, I read my emails. 

    Read more in Southlake BubbleLife.

  • Judge Rick Magnis Monitors Most Dangerous Domestic Abusers in The Dallas Morning News

    by Emily Roberts | Feb 17, 2014

    Judge to Dallas-area domestic abusers: Show up weekly or go to jail

    February 16, 2014
    by Sarah Mervosh
    The Dallas Morning News

    Once a week, state District Judge Rick Magnis gives domestic violence offenders in his courtroom a choice: show up or go to jail.

    Magnis, who presides over the 283rd District Court, is leading a new program that monitors highly dangerous family violence offenders on probation for a felony. It is one of several new initiatives that Dallas County judges are using to try to curb domestic violence.

    Magnis’ high-risk offender program deals exclusively with plea-bargain cases and requires that the perpetrators meet with him each Friday as a condition of their probation. The judge hopes each of his handpicked abusers will be there, sitting on the wooden benches, waiting for their name to be called. If not, he immediately issues a warrant for their arrest.

    “We are trailing, nailing and jailing them,” Magnis said. “If they don’t change their behavior, they are going to be in jail.”

    The initiative, which began last month and currently works with five men on probation, is meant to help the worst abusers change their behavior and hold them accountable for their choices. In addition to the weekly meetings, Magnis can choose to require ankle bracelets, drug and alcohol monitoring, home visits and batterer’s intervention classes.

    The most important goal, he said, is to make sure the victims stay safe — and alive.

    The increased surveillance helps plug a gap in the system that previously made it difficult to know for sure whether the batterer was having contact with his victim. It also helps authorities obtain a warrant quickly if the abuser puts the victim at risk by violating probation, Magnis said.

    Paige Flink, executive director of The Family Place shelter, said she’s encouraged that the program is placing the responsibility on the abuser.

    “I’m hopeful that the accountability that the judge is putting around these batterers will help change their behavior,” she said. “The options for them, if they don’t follow his guidelines, are they are going to go to the penitentiary. That’s the bottom line.”

    On Friday, a dozen key players from police to advocates met to go over how the offenders were doing. Two followed the terms of their probation, while one violated his curfew and another spent a night in jail for failing to complete court-ordered community service.

    But one offender — Christopher, the group’s newest member — was missing from the courtroom. (Magnis ordered that the offenders’ full names be withheld to protect their identities as they work to change their abusive behavior.)

    According to court records, Christopher had punched a pregnant woman several times in the stomach. And last fall, he threatened a woman with a knife, saying: “Don’t you know I’ll kill you? You’re my property.”

    Magnis briefly met with the four men who were there, warning the ones who had strayed and encouraging those who were doing well. “You’re taking care of all of your business,” he told one. “I’m impressed.”

    Then, just as Magnis was about to issue a warrant for Christopher’s arrest, a stocky man wearing a black T-shirt and red sweatpants walked into the courtroom. Magnis sat back down.

    “What time are you supposed to be here?” Magnis asked him.

    “3:30,” Christopher said.

    “And what time did you get here?” the judge inquired.

    “I made it to the parking lot by 3:47,” Christopher said so quietly the judge had to repeat it for the rest of the courtroom.

    Magnis laid down the law.

    “You’re going to be reporting to me every Friday. Understand? And I don’t really like it when people are late.”

    Read more at Dallasnews.com.

  • Dallas deputies roundup yields 22 arrests on Valentines Day

    by Emily Roberts | Feb 17, 2014

    Dallas deputies' Valentine's Day roundup yields 22 arrests

    February 14, 2014
    by Shaun Rabb

    Dallas County Sheriff's Deputies were out early Friday morning, Valentine's Day, to arrest suspects wanted for domestic violence.

    "We identified what we thought were going to be some of the most violent offenders," said Captain Mark Howard. "I think we're working off about 230 warrants this morning."

    Seventeen two-man squads tracked by GPS spread across the county, delivering warrants and delivering the wanted to jail.

    The team's first warrant was for a man who was arrested and violated his probation, but he had moved.

    Deputies moved on to a second address and finally a third before finding their man hiding in a closet and arresting him.

    "[He] got probation violation for family violence," said Howard. The suspect also reportedly has a history of assaults, including against police.

    The operation was orchestrated from the department's mobile command unit. Those arrested will spend Valentine's Day weekend at Lew Sterrett Jail.

    In all, 22 people were arrested in the operation.

    At one house, police seized three five-gallon buckets of crack cocaine, marijuana, and guns.

    Read more at FOX NEWS.

  • Shop at LAFCO in Highland Park Village this week to kick off Labor of Love

    by Emily Roberts | Feb 10, 2014

    Help us bring safety and comfort to each person
    who walks through the doors at The Family Place!

    2014 Labor of Love LAFCO The Family Place Dwell with Dignity

    Shop at LAFCO (66 Highland Park Village, Dallas TX 75205)

    Monday, February 10th to Sunday, February 16th


    15% of all House & Home Product Sales will go to

    2014 Labor of Love Logo - Lafco TFP DwD

    LAFCO and Dwell with Dignity are partnering with us  to bring safety and comfort
    to the families at The Family Place Shelter.

  • Register for 2014 Black History Month Brown Bag Lunch Series

    by Emily Roberts | Feb 03, 2014

    2014 Black History Month Brown Bag Lunch Series

    “Bring your lunch,  Drinks and dessert are on us!”
    2575 Lone Star | Dallas, Texas 75212
    Registration 11:00-11:30am |  Presentation  11:30am-1pm
    presented by The Family Place Southern Sector

    Space is limited! Pre-register by clicking here!

    The First Step:  Connecting with resources to assists victims of domestic violence - SESSION FULL!
    February 5, 2014

    This workshop will use a case vignette to create an advocacy road map that will highlight the connection between systems and the steps necessary to assist domestic violence victims in navigating resources.

    Representative , Dallas Police Department Family Violence Unit
    Sakia Johnson, Children’s Case Manger, TFP Shelter
    Ester Torres, Attorney,  Legal Aid of Northwest Texas
    Bree West JD, Assistant District Attorney, Dallas County District Attorney’s Office-Family Violence Division 
    Debra Carr  -Program Director, TFP Supportive Living Program
    Jummy Iyiola - Counselor, TFP Southern Sector
    Deborah Stewart - Counselor, TFP Partner Advocate Program

    What to do - What to say: Working with children and youth
    February 12, 2014

    What to do: An important strategy for bullying prevention focuses on the powerful role of the bystander. The first half of this workshop discusses race and gender and their impact on bystander behavior.
    What to say:  How to create a safe place for children to talk about themselves and their feelings.

    Alisha Prince, - Children’s Counselor II, TFP Southern Sector
    Courtney Butts -  Lead Educator I, TFP Be Project
    Jeff Thomas - Children’s Mentor, TFP CDC & Residential Children’s Program
    Kevin Pittman - Children’s Mentor, TFP CDC & Residential Children’s Program

    Family Violence: Perspectives on Victims and Perpetrators
    February 19, 2014

    How do you see it? Everyone wears a different set of lenses when they view the world that often influence our response to the issue of domestic violence. This interactive workshop will use a variety of techniques to help us gain a perspective on adult victims and perpetrators involved in domestic violence.  It will also include information on the current work in Dallas County on High Risk Offenders.

    Theresa Little - Assistant Director-Community Outreach,TFP Southern Sector
    LaShaun Roberts, BIPP Counselor, TFP Batterers Intervention and Prevention Program
    Judge Roberto Canas, Jr. - Presiding Judge, Dallas County, Criminal Court 10

    Defining the Challenge: Domestic Violence and Its intersection with Child Abuse, Homelessness and HIV/AIDS
    February 26, 2014

    A dialogue that explores the issue, as well as, the impact and unique challenges that must be addressed to assist African American families that are disproportionately represented at the overlap of domestic violence, child abuse, homelessness and HIV/AIDS.

    Cheryl Edwards - CEO/Executive Director, A Sister’s Gift
    Maxine Jones -Robinson - Disproportionality and Disparities Specialist, HHSC Center for the Elimination of
              Disproportionality and Disparities
    Jennifer Johnson - Executive Director, Lifeline of Hope
    Anastasia Nixon - Permanent Supportive Housing Family Case Manger, Family Gateway
    Pauline Farley - Community Educator/Counselor, TFP  Southern Sector

    Debra Mitchell-Ibe | dimbe@familyplace.org | 214.443.7750

    Click here to register!

  • Read Part 2 of the Deadly Affection Series in The Dallas Morning News

    by Emily Roberts | Feb 03, 2014

    Better Tools, Better Education - Part 2 of Deadly Affection Series

    February 2, 2014
    by Diane Jennings
    The Dallas Morning News

    When Texas police officers answer an emergency domestic violence call these days, they go armed with a gun — and a piece of paper.

    The gun is for protection. So is the paper.

    The paper contains information about shelters, counseling, hotlines and legal services and often is small enough to fit inside a shoe or a lipstick case — places abusers rarely check. But it’s a big sign of how Texas laws have changed since domestic violence became a public health issue 35 years ago.

    Experts say most of the laws needed to address domestic violence are on the books. But funding for enforcement, support programs and prevention is still lacking.

    “We used to use the analogy ‘If you hit your neighbor, you go to jail. But if you hit your wife, the cops would not even come,’” said Denise Margo Moy, deputy executive director of Texas Advocacy Project, a nonprofit that provides legal services to victims. “That doesn’t happen anymore.”

    Former prosecutor Aaron Setliff, who serves as director of policy for the Texas Council on Family Violence, agreed. Texas has a “really robust response” to family violence, he said. But “there’s still work to be done.”

    For example, a law prohibits gun possession by anyone who has a protective order against him, or who has been convicted of a domestic violence offense. But no one is responsible for making sure the gun is actually surrendered.

    In addition, domestic violence cases can move agonizingly slowly. Arrest warrants may not be executed for weeks because servers are few; a case can drag out because detectives and prosecutors are overwhelmed. And if the offender is sentenced to jail in Dallas, overcrowding means he or she may be released after serving a fraction of the time.

    “It’s not that we don’t have the legal power,” said Dallas domestic court Judge Rob Cañas. “We don’t have the resources.”

    Revolutionary laws

    Despite the gaps in the system, experts say Texas has come a long way since Debby Tucker bought a new outfit to lobby the Legislature on behalf of domestic violence victims in 1979.

    “At that time, the law enforcement attitude in general was that ‘All of this is a complete waste of time and resources. … We can’t stop this,’” recalled Tucker, now executive director of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence in Austin.

    She remembers being appalled that officers typically wouldn’t make an arrest at family violence calls unless they had a warrant or witnessed the incident. The victim could be bleeding, the children screaming and “broken stuff all over the room,” Tucker said. And the officer “would have to go downtown to request a warrant to make an arrest.”

    Mark Hafner, president of the Texas Police Chiefs Association, said officers had little training then. If “no one showed signs of injury, our role was ‘Hey, everyone’s safe,’ separate the combatants and move on. ‘It’s your problem.’”

    Even when officers worried that victims were in danger, they usually had no place to send them because shelters were still a fledgling concept.

    Today, most of the time a 911 call is answered by officers trained to deal with domestic violence. Warrantless arrests are permitted, and many departments take suspects to jail and refer the victims to services.

    Penalties for domestic violence crimes have been raised, and shelters and batterer intervention programs are now accessible. Those shelters and intervention programs, however, may be harder to find in rural areas than in big cities, Setliff said.

    Also, dating violence awareness education is required in Texas schools, and protective orders are available.

    “The law has given us better tools, better education,” Hafner said. “So we don’t feel as frustrated. We feel we are making a difference.”

    A balance

    In the 19th century, a husband could legally “chastise” his wife with physical punishment. And until the 1970s, husbands nationwide could not be charged with raping their wives. Texas did not pass a spousal rape law until 1987, but it wasn’t until 1994 that all exemptions for marital rape were eliminated. Now a victim of marital rape can make allegations in the same manner as other sexual assault victims.

    Few advocate going back to those pre-1987 days, but some worry that the new laws could force the pendulum to swing too far in the other direction.

    “Some of the changes have been valuable in fighting domestic violence,” said Sam Bassett, a vice president of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. But “when you start eliminating or chipping away” at certain fundamental rights, “you have to be very careful.”

    Bassett said more aggressive laws make false abuse claims a bigger problem than in the past.

    “I see instances of false allegations to gain leverage in a child custody battle or in a divorce lawsuit,” he said.

    Some of the biggest changes in the law involve how domestic violence suspects are held and prosecuted.

    In 2005, Texas voters approved an amendment to the state constitution allowing judges to hold some people accused of a felony in jail without bail if the safety of a victim is at stake.

    “That’s big,” said Cañas, of Dallas County Criminal Court No. 10, who said the law makes dealing with repeat offenders easier. “Because under the Texas Constitution, everybody’s entitled to bond — the worst mass murderer you can think of is entitled to a bond.”

    More recently, the Texas Legislature passed a “forfeiture by wrongdoing” law that allows a domestic violence trial to proceed even if the victim is not present. That’s contrary to the constitutional right to confront your accuser, but the U.S. Supreme Court has said the defendant forfeits that right if it can be proved that he has intimidated the victim into not appearing.

    The Texas law, which is similar to that of other states, requires a hearing before the trial starts to determine whether the claim is valid — that is, whether “the defendant has caused her not to be present by threatening her, telling her he was going to kill her or hurt her more,” Setliff said.

    The prosecutor must convince the judge by the “preponderance of the evidence” standard used in civil disputes rather than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal court.

    Transitional services

    The new laws have helped make a difference — studies show that domestic violence has declined since the mid-1990s.

    But people are still hurting their loved ones emotionally and physically. In 2012, the Texas Department of Public Safety reported almost 200,000 family violence incidents. That same year, 269 people were killed in Texas by someone with whom they had a close relationship. There were 1,144 total homicides statewide that year.

    Experts say answers to the problem are more complex than advocates realized in the early days of the movement to end domestic violence, when arresting abusers and providing temporary shelter to victims seemed to be the answer.

    Paige Flink, executive director of The Family Place, Dallas’ first shelter, said transitional housing and services are needed now.

    “You can’t just pay someone’s rent and put them out in the community,” she said.

    Other advocates push funding for civil representation in divorce court, as well as increased domestic violence education for kids.

    But even ardent advocates acknowledge that more laws and money won’t end domestic violence.

    “There has to be some kind of a significant change in public attitude,” like the intolerance for drunken driving, said Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in Denver.

    Smith said she would like to see religious groups and employers, among others, make family violence unacceptable in society.

    “If there were those kinds of consequences, in addition to legal ones … that pressured people into not using violence as a way to control their family, then I think we would have more success.”

    Read more in Dallasnews.com.