• Shedding light on consequences of domestic violence in WFAA-TV

    by Emily Roberts | Nov 25, 2015

    Shedding light on consequences of domestic violence

    November 23, 2015
    by Rebecca Lopez

    The numbers are staggering. One hundred thirty-two women were killed in domestic violence cases last year.

    The youngest victim was 16, the oldest victim 90.

    The majority of them were shot.

    News 8 is committed to putting the spotlight on this issue. Estella Segovia survived domestic violence, and shared her story with us.

    "When did the abuse start?” we asked.  She said it began three weeks after she got married.

    For seven years, Estella lived in a private Hell.

    "He hit me, he kicked me in my face when I was on the floor,” she said. “He put a pillow over my face and tried to smother me."

    Her now ex-husband Joseph Buckaloo reigned terror over her life.  A tyrant who controlled her every move.

    "They think abuse is control and getting what you want,” Estella said.

    Tired of the beatings, Estella filed for a protective order and left -- that was in 2012.

    "I started to follow the directions and I got the protective order- within a week he had already violated it at my home."

    Like most domestic violence victims, she lived in fear her ex-husband would find her and kill her.

    Her worst nightmare came true. He showed up at her cousin's house, armed with a gun demanding Estella leave with him.

    For the first time, she told him no. And that proved to be fateful.

    "Once I closed the door and locked it, that's when I heard the cocking of the gun," she said.

    Buckaloo fired dozens of rounds.

    "I started hearing the glass breaking,” Estella said. “Shot after shot after shot is when I really felt it, so surreal like it wasn't happening."

    When the bullets stopped, Estella's cousin, who was also at the home, was shot in the face.

    "I blamed myself for a long time for being there,” Estella said. “She ended up losing her left eye."

    All this after Estella made the decision to leave.

    She was going through counseling at the Family Place.

    Statistics show of the women killed in domestic violence incidents, 75 percent die after leaving.

    More than half die by gunfire.

    "When a batterer realizes he's lost control of his partner, that is when she is in the most danger, especially if you have filed for divorce, served divorce papers or say I am leaving you,” Paige Flink of the Family Place said. “That is when you have to have a safety plan to be able to get out."

    Estella's ex was sentenced to 99 years in prison. She no longer had to look over her shoulder.

    And she encourages other victims to seek help and shelter because she says their lives depend on it.

    Read more at WFAA-TV!

  • Congratulations to Paige Flink for being featurded in D CEO's The Dallas 500

    by Emily Roberts | Nov 25, 2015

    Congratulation to Paige Flink, our CEO at The Family Place, for being featured in D Magazine CEO’s The Dallas 500 publication which celebrates the most influential leaders in North Texas!

    We are glad to have you leading us!

    2016 D Magazine CEO - Paige Flink

  • Thank you to everyone that supported Partners Card!

    by Emily Roberts | Nov 25, 2015


    We want to take a moment and thank EACH and EVERYONE of YOU who supported Partners Card benefiting The Family Place this year!!!

    You help us save the lives of countless women, men and children who come to The Family Place. From the bottom of our hearts, we sincerely thank you.

    Special thanks go to all of the wonderful retailers, our amazing sponsors, our Retail Sales Liaisons and Community Card Sellers for making 2015 Partners Card possible!

  • The Family Place Announces Opening of the First Male-Only Shelter in Texas

    by Emily Roberts | Oct 21, 2015

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                        

    Contact: Rahel Tekola

    Plans to open The Family Place Men’s Shelter in January 2016

    October 21, 2015 – Dallas, TX – The Family Place announced plans today for the very first dedicated men’s domestic violence shelter in the state of Texas. To meet the increasing community demand for emergency shelter services for male victims and their children, The Family Place deemed this shelter the necessary next step in its expansion of services.

    The Family Place has spent an average of $20,000 per month this year in hotel costs for sheltering male victims and their children (19 male clients as of September 2015; double the total of 2014). Even with security, transportation and programming restrictions, hotels were the only option available to not only keep female and male clients separate, but also ensure that these men were not turned away when they asked for help. This increase in male victims coming forward is largely due to the successful Dallas Police Department Lethality Assessment Program and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ efforts to increase awareness.

    The Family Place will specifically develop staff and programming for the Men’s Shelter to meet the unique needs of this demographic, including shelter and counseling services for these men and their children.  The majority of the funding for this shelter will come from a new Victims of Crime Act grant, but The Family Place must raise additional funds from the community. 

    “A report being released by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings tonight shows the incredible demand for shelter space and other services for victims of domestic violence,” says Paige Flink, Chief Executive Officer of The Family Place. “At The Family Place, we are committed to meeting the need to the best of our ability as long as the financial support from the community is there. We cannot do it without their help.”

    The Family Place plans to open its new Men’s Shelter in January 2016.  Efforts to find the location are ongoing, as it is important to find a space that best serves this population of victims.  The Family Place welcomes recommendations and assistance from the community as it continues its search. This project will develop concurrently with The Family Place Legacy Capital Campaign that will also include 30-36 beds to serve as an overflow emergency shelter when the shelter at The Family Place Safe Campus is full. 

    For more information, please contact Rahel Tekola at 214-443-7711 or rstekola@familyplace.org.


    About The Family Place
    The Family Place is one of the first family violence service providers in the state with a mission to eliminate family violence through intervention and proactive prevention, extensive community education, and advocacy and assistance for victims and their families.

    The Family Place now provides the largest number of victim services for in the State of Texas. In 37 years, The Family Place has counseled more than 225,000 clients, provided lifesaving shelter to more than 22,000 women, children and men, and answered more than 550,000 calls for help. The Family Place has also helped more than 20,000 batterers learn how to change their abusive behavior. Its youth program, Be Project, reaches approximately 6,000 students each year through youth education programs. All the programs are provided in Spanish and in English. For more information, visit www.familyplace.org.

  • Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders Join Us to PutTheRingInIt

    by Emily Roberts | Oct 07, 2015

    We are excited to have the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders join The Family Place to ‪#‎PutTheNailInIt‬ by rocking the purple nail polish!

    Together we can end domestic violence! ‪#‎dvam‬ #putthenailinit ‪#‎gopurple‬ ‪#‎endviolence

    Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders PutaNailinit

  • Moody Foundation gives $5 million to The Family Place

    by Emily Roberts | Oct 07, 2015

    Moody Foundation gives $5 million to The Family Place

    by Holly Haber
    October 1, 2015
    The Dallas Morning News

    The Moody Foundation has donated $5 million to the The Family Place as the cornerstone of a $13 million capital campaign to establish a new counseling center and emergency shelter for victims of domestic abuse.

    “It’s the largest single donation we have ever received in the history of the Family Place,” said Paige Flink, executive director, as she announced the gift and campaign at the organization’s Texas Trailblazer Award Luncheon on Thursday at the Hilton Anatole.

    The nonprofit group has secured a building on 2.5 acres in the Medical District and will begin renovations in March, Flink said. The 40,000-square-foot facility will have 40 beds for female victims and their children and will also have room for counseling, job training, play therapy, anti-bullying youth education, a child development center and a 24-hour hotline. The Family Place’s existing safe campus, which houses 110 beds, will continue to operate, she noted.

    “We thought we would never need more space,” Flink said. “But Dallas has grown and evolved and this issue has changed, and more people are getting help because they are aware of our services.”

    The new center will be named Ann Moody Place in honor of the mother of Frances "Francie" Moody-Dahlberg, a trustee of the Moody Foundation.

    "My heart is touched when I think of the legacy of rebuilt hopes, restored futures and simple dreams of safety that Family Place has given to so many women in Dallas," Moody-Dahlberg said.

    Raising the remaining $8 million of The Family Place Legacy Campaign is "nerve-racking," Flink said, "but we are so sure that it's the right thing to do."

    Read the full article at DallasNews.com.

  • The Family Place Announces $13 Million Capital Campaign

    by Judy Hudson | Oct 01, 2015


    Contact: Rahel Tekola

    Ramona Logan

    For 40,000 sq. ft. Central Dallas Counseling Center

    October 1, 2015 – Dallas, TX – The Family Place announced plans for a $13- million capital campaign to turn a recently purchased building into a 40,000 square foot Central Dallas Counseling Center. The announcement was made today during The Family Place’s 20th Trailblazer Awards Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas.

    The Central Dallas Counseling Center will allow The Family Place to house expanded victim counseling services and its administrative offices in a location easily accessible by bus and rail. This includes providing space for domestic violence victims and their children to receive therapeutic counseling and case management, as well as the Dignity at Work job training program that assists in financial empowerment, the Be Project youth bullying and violence prevention education program, and an on-site child development center.

    "The Family Place Legacy Campaign – Building Hope for the Future, will allow us to do just that for our clients," said Family Place Chief Executive Officer Paige Flink. "With more space, we plan to use the design and planning phase for the building to develop innovative ways to utilize technology to benefit the domestic violence community as well as increasing program services to help victims become victorious survivors."

    The Family Place utilized client focus groups to determine what is needed in the new facility. To meet the increasing community demand for emergency shelter beds, the new facility will include an emergency shelter with 40 beds. This will be in addition to The Family Place Safe Campus emergency shelter that has 110 beds and constantly operates at capacity. The new facility will also have an on-site kennel so clients who are forced to flee their homes do not have to leave their pets behind.

    "One of the most important components of this construction effort will be the ability to specifically design spaces to expand our children's counseling program," explained Paige Flink as she addressed the Texas Trailblazer Awards Luncheon crowd. "Children are greatly affected by witnessing violence in the home and, without intervention, can suffer a lifetime of issues related to those experiences. This new facility will allow us to create specially designed play-therapy rooms with observation areas, multiple activity rooms where children can be placed in age-appropriate groups, and the ability to provide dinner meals to children while their mothers are in counseling. We want to make sure this new facility has a positive impact on these most vulnerable victims of family violence."

    The building will include a centralized hotline/call center to efficiently place clients in shelters or schedule counseling appointments in our multiple locations. The Family Place is exploring the possibility of having a centralized community-wide intake phone number for domestic violence victims to call. This way, when shelters are full, victims won’t have to call several shelters to find a place to stay, the hotline can help them find the closest available location.

    "The expanded space will help us to better prepare our clients to start new lives by expanding our training and education rooms," added Flink. "We will be able to have a client computer lab in the new facility that will allow us to empower clients with hard and soft job-skills programming and certificate and employment training, as well as providing collaboration with organizations like the Dallas County Community College District, Per Scholas and other job training programs."

    The Family Place plans to raise the $13 million by December 2016 and start renovations by March 2016. To find out more about The Family Place Legacy Campaign and how to donate, visit www.familyplace.org.


    About The Family Place: In 1978, a group of community volunteers organized The Family Place as one of the first family violence service organizations in the state with a mission to eliminate family violence through intervention and proactive prevention, extensive community education, and advocacy and assistance for victims and their families.

    In 1978, a group of community volunteers organized The Family Place as one of the first family violence service organizations in the state with a mission to eliminate family violence through intervention and proactive prevention, extensive community education, and advocacy and assistance for victims and their families.

    Started as a grass-roots organization, The Family Place now provides the largest number of victim services in the State of Texas. In 37 years, The Family Place has counseled more than 225,000 clients, provided lifesaving shelter to more than 22,000 women, children and men, and answered more than 550,000 calls for help. The Family Place has also helped more than 20,000 batterers learn how to change their abusive behavior. Its youth program, Be Project, reaches approximately 6,000 students each year through youth education programs. All the programs are provided in Spanish and in English. www.familyplace.org

  • Watch Christina Coultas & Courtney Butts on Plugged in to DFW

    by Emily Roberts | Sep 15, 2015

    Watch Christina Coultas & Courtney Butts on CBS DFW Plugged in to DFW

    Learn more about our organization and why you should give this Thursday for North Texas Giving Day!!

    2015 TFP on Plugged into DFW

  • Watch Christina Coultas on Fox News 4 respond to Cowboys signing Greg Hardy

    by Emily Roberts | Mar 18, 2015
    Christina Coultas, Sr Director of Community Collaboration at The Family Place, was on FOX 4 News Wednesday, March 18 at 9pm to talk about Greg Hardy signing with the Dallas Cowboys. 

    Click here to watch the video clip -http://www.fox4news.com/clip/11252710/domestic-violence-shelter-director-talks-greg-hardy-domestic-violence!

  • TFP CEO Paige Flink responds to Cowboys interest in Greg Hardy

    by Emily Roberts | Mar 18, 2015
    What participants at Dallas Annual Conference on Crimes Against Women think about Cowboys interest in Greg Hardy

    March 18, 2015
    by David Moore
    The Dallas Morning News

    Greg Hardy’s visit with the Cowboys should wrap up later today.

    Also scheduled to wrap up later today is the 10thAnnual Conference on Crimes Against Women.

    The three-day conference is taking place in a hotel in downtown Dallas just miles away from where the Cowboys host Hardy. The defensive end’s history of violence – his conviction for assaulting and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend was recently overturned when the accuser failed to appear for trial – is the sort of story used to help educate law enforcement, advocates, medical personnel and others on the issues surrounding domestic abuse.

    Paige Flink is the CEO of The Family Place shelter. She said the allegations against Hardy sound damaging but stressed they didn’t ultimately result in a conviction. If the club does sign Hardy, she suggests the Cowboys make him attend batterer’s intervention and prevention classes as a condition of employment.

    “People can change,’’ Flink said.

    The Genesis Women’s Shelter, along with the Dallas Police Department, sponsors this conference. Jan Langbein, the CEO of Genesis Women’s Shelter, said it takes more than winning to make a football team successful. She said the city wants to be proud of the Cowboys and stated they can do better than signing someone with a background of violence.

    Langbein emphasized the need for zero tolerance regardless of wealth or status and questioned if Hardy would be hired if he wasn’t a high-profile professional athlete.

    “There shouldn’t be an exception no matter who you are,’’ she said. “Are we that easily bought?’’

    Read the full article at dallasnews.com.

  • 13 Incredible Things You Have Done

    by Emily Roberts | Mar 04, 2015

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

    We wanted to share and celebrate what you made possible in 2014. Together, we provided 11,523 clients with 164,672 hours of service. One thing's for sure - we will never give up until all victims can lead a life free from violence. Standing together with you, we are an unwavering force to end this epidemic.

    2014 At A Glance - The Family Place Annual Report

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

    Give Now to The Family Place

  • In Memory of Ronnie Berg

    by Emily Roberts | Feb 24, 2015

    We honor the passing of a dear friend to The Family Place, Ronnie Berg. We have had the pleasure of working with Ronnie for many years and will miss his smile, his charm and his commitment to women and children in need. 

    Paige Flink says, "Thank you, Ronnie, for sharing yourself with so many of us in the non-profit world. You will be missed."

    http://mysweetcharity.com/ 2015/02/ a-passing-ronnie-berg/

    In Memory of Ronnie Berg, Friend of The Family Place

  • Fifty Shades turns off domestic-violence advocates

    by Emily Roberts | Feb 16, 2015

    'Fifty Shades’ turns off domestic-violence victim advocates, who push for boycott

    February 13, 2015
    by Jennifer Emily
    The Dallas Morning News

    The new movie Fifty Shades of Grey is generating heavy discussion among domestic violence victim advocates.

    But their chatter isn’t about the quality of the film, whether it’s sexy or whether the lead actors hate each other. Anti-domestic violence groups say the movie and the book it’s based on portray an unhealthy and dangerous relationship.

    “It has all the hallmarks of intimate partner abuse,” said Paige Flink, CEO of the Family Place shelter in Dallas. “It glorifies all the things we’re against.”

    The anti-Fifty Shades sentiment has launched a nationwide effort to donate $50 to a domestic violence shelter instead of seeing the movie. The movement sparked #50DollarsNot50Shades and #50ShadesIsAbuse on Twitter and Facebook.

    As far away as London, the film drew harsh criticism. At its premiere there on Thursday, protesters carried banners that read “50 Shades is Domestic Abuse.”

    Safe Haven, Tarrant County’s shelter, sent an email to its supporters about boycotting the movie and donating to shelters instead. The head of the nonprofit could not be reached Friday.

    Flink said the Family Place had received two donations as of early Friday. But she hasn’t heavily promoted the movement, she said, because she didn’t want to give more publicity to a movie that’s expected to break records. She did post about the boycott on the Family Place’s Facebook page.

    Fifty Shades follows mousy English literature major Anastasia Steele (played by Dakota Johnson) as she interviews dashing young business magnate Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) for her college newspaper. Christian tries to entice Anastasia into becoming his sexual submissive, wooing her with expensive gifts, rides in his Grey Enterprises helicopter and steamy bedroom encounters.

    A recent Los Angeles Times story about criticism of the film described it as less explicit than the book. The movie’s sex scenes arrive after a long buildup between the characters and are as close to pornography made for women as those in any cinema, with breathy Beyoncé songs, flattering lighting and frequent shots of Dornan’s bare chest and rear, according to the Times.

    In an interview with the California newspaper, director Sam Taylor-Johnson indicated she walked a line in shooting and editing some of the film’s rougher sex scenes.

    “Even though this relationship is about dominance and submission, I wanted to have it be an equal journey,” she said. “So it was a fragile balance. I think that was because of my perspective of keeping an eye on the politics of it. It’s difficult because you’re dealing with power, submission, empowerment and the journey of sexual discovery.”

    Flink, who said she hasn’t seen the movie and read only part of the book, said “maybe the movie shows how much pain” Anastasia is in, but she doubts it.

    Reviews for Fifty Shades have been overwhelmingly negative. The Dallas Morning News’ Chris Vognar gave the film a C- and said it was more tedious than tawdry.

    Read the full article on Dallasnews.com.

  • Grammys take a stand on domestic violence last night

    by Emily Roberts | Feb 09, 2015

    Grammys take a stand on domestic violence last night at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards

    President Obama Interrupted The Grammys To Make A Statement More Remarkable Than Any Award Or Dress

    This was how the #grammys started last night with the focus on violence against women. The President calls for artists to take a stand and speak out to stop it with their influence.


    Meet Brooke Axtell, the Domestic Survivor Who Performed With Katy Perry at the Grammys


  • Watch this powerful Super Bowl Sunday ad - It's up to us to listen!

    by Emily Roberts | Jan 30, 2015

    NFL's domestic violence Super Bowl spot: 'It's up to us to listen'

    January 27, 2015
    by Chris Isidore
    CNN Money

    The National Football League is running an ad during the Super Bowl addressing the issue that's been dogging it all year: Domestic Violence.

    The somber spot, produced by the domestic violence advocacy group NoMore.org, is a stark contrast to the Super Bowl's traditionally humorous ads.

    It shows a home that's obviously been the scene of a struggle, with broken pictures and a hole punched in the wall.

    The soundtrack is a woman calling 911 but pretending to order a pizza in order not to anger her attacker. At first the male 911 operator tries to get her off the phone. Then he realizes she needs help but can't speak because her attacker is in the room. He tells her police are about a minute away and asks her to stay on the line but she hangs up.

    "When it's hard to talk, it's up to us to listen," say words that appear at the bottom of the screen.

    Read the full article at CNNMoney.com.

  • Happy Holidays from The Family Place

    by Emily Roberts | Dec 24, 2014

    Happy Holidays from The Family Place

    Dear Friend of The Family Place,

    Hands down, this had to be the hardest thing I have ever done. I never pictured my life like this. I was terrified of becoming just another statistic, of being judged, and of being alone. All of these things kept me shackled to my grief.  Eventually I began to accept that this was going to be my reality for the rest of my life.
    The events that led me to The Family Place served as a breaking point. Now it was happening in front of my kids. I had to run. I WAS TERRIFIED! Where would I go? How would I survive? I knew I couldn’t stay for round two. But a shelter??? With my kids???
    Once I realized there were so many opportunities to better myself, I realized this was the place for me. I began to appreciate the little things in life again. I appreciated having a place I could rest my head in peace again. I appreciated that my babies were away from the drama.  If I could effectively find peace in a DV shelter, what awaited me outside of the gates?
    I’m happy to say I now have my own place. I am gainfully employed, I’m back in school, and The Family Place helped me start my own small business. I still have hard days, but they are no longer cloaked in darkness. I am living and working towards my dreams. My babies are healthy and happy. We are blessed. I found my light. I found my strength, I found myself. For that, words cannot express how grateful I am. Coming to The Family Place was the hardest thing I have done. But the reward for my sacrifice was far greater than I ever imagined.
    Sincerely yours,

    Thank you for helping us make a difference in Tracy's life.
    Thank you for helping these victims become survivors.

    Wishing you and your family a wonderful and safe
    holiday season from The Family Place!

    Happy Holidays from The Family Place

  • In 8 days, it will be Christmas Eve at our Emergency Shelter, you can make their wishes come true

    by Emily Roberts | Dec 16, 2014

    In 8 days, it will be Christmas Eve at our Emergency Shelter, you can make their wishes come true

    In so many ways, the children at The Family Place are just like the children you know. This time of year, they want iPads and video games, bikes and dollhouses. But they also want things that so many of us take for granted—a  safe home, a job for their mom, no more fighting.

    The Family Place not only keeps them safe but also provides comprehensive services and a clear supportive path for them to progress from fear to safety.

    Give Them Hope
    Every dollar you give ensures our lifesaving shelter and life-changing programs will continue to help victims start new lives free from violence.

    Make a difference today at www.familyplace.org/donate!

  • MySweetWishList: The Family Place

    by Emily Roberts | Dec 16, 2014

    MySweetWishList: The Family Place

    December 9, 2014
    by Jeanne Prejean

    According to The Family Place CEO Paige Flink,

    “I wish I had a new truck for The Family Place Resale Shop so we could pick up more donations and move more clients into apartments. Thankfully, people from all over the Dallas area want to help, but we can’t always go get their large items because our current 15 year old truck is frequently in the shop. This causes us to lose important opportunities for helping our clients.

    “Each year we shelter around 1,000 women and children at The Family Place. We set them up in apartments with ‘starter kits’ put together from donations to our Resale Shop. When women flee to our shelter they usually have to leave everything behind. Christina was a client like that.

    “’Hands down, this had to be the hardest thing I have ever done. I never pictured ever done. I never pictured my life like this. I knew on my wedding day I shouldn’t have married him. But I told myself it was for my babies, so it was a necessary sacrifice. I was terrified of being judged, and of being alone. It never crossed my mind that I could free myself.

    “’Now it was happening in front of my kids. I had to run. But how would I survive? My ex controlled the finances. I hadn’t worked since before my son was born. Then a church member Googled The Family Place. The assistance was there. I just had to reach out and grab it. Finding strength in myself pushed me to really work the program.

    “’I’m happy to say I now have my own place. I still have hard days, but I’m living and working toward my dreams.’

    “Christina is one of the many clients who get a second chance with support from The Family Place Resale Shop and YOU! Learn how you can help at familyplace.org, or call Paige Flink at 214.443.7711.”

    -Paige Flink, The Family Place CEO

  • You Can Make Their Wishes Come True

    by Emily Roberts | Dec 09, 2014

    You can make their wishes come true. Watch how>>

    In so many ways, the children at The Family Place are just like the children you know. This time of year, they want iPads and video games, bikes and dollhouses. But they also want things that so many of us take for granted—a  safe home, a job for their mom, no more fighting.

    The Family Place not only keeps them safe but also provides comprehensive services and a clear supportive path for them to progress from fear to safety.

    Every dollar you give ensures our lifesaving shelter and life-changing programs will continue to lift victims from hopelessness and help them start new lives free from violence. Please help these vulnerable families find their way from fear to safety.

  • Josh Derrough-Harvey of Adamson HS is High School Athlete of the Month for Sports Illustrated

    by Emily Roberts | Nov 13, 2014

    Adamson's Josh Derrough-Harvey is SI's High School Athlete of the Month

    November 12, 2014
    by Ali Fenwick

    DALLAS -- It’s game night in Texas, and the Adamson High Leopards are ready. They have been practicing. They have a plan. They are wearing uniforms, but not the ones bearing the usual colors of blue and white. Instead, players are adorned with purple ribbons and T-shirts with the message “Be A Man” emblazoned on the front. On this night, rather than taking the field, this group of high school football players will fan out across Sprague Stadium at Kimball High for Molina High’s matchup with Spruce High, some manning a table near the home grandstands, others climbing into the bleachers, all armed with markers and papers that read, “I pledge to help stop domestic violence because …” Fill in your own reason.

    They want to know: Will you take the pledge?

    Since last fall, long before domestic violence and football became intertwined in the public consciousness, Adamson players have engaged in an anti-domestic violence movement, collecting pledges from fellow players, students, parents and community members and posting them to Twitter. The campaign went viral in the Texas high school football community last season and spread to a handful of college programs across 10 states this year. A women’s group from Bangladesh, where domestic violence became a crime just four years ago, even visited the team this September to find out how to launch a similar project. But this evening -- during the Leopards’ bye week -- allows the players to bring their campaign to rival high schools. Before the night is finished, they will collect some 600 pledges from the crowd. By the end of the week, they will have attended eight other games, working up a sweat under the Friday night lights without playing a down.

    One Adamson player canvasing the bleachers is especially determined. He is just 17, but he knows the horrors of domestic violence all too well. He knows it’s a learned behavior, and that it’s up to people like him to break the cycle. His personal pledge reads: “Because I have experienced it.”

    Josh Derrough-Harvey, the Leopards senior tailback and leading rusher, worked hard to make varsity this season -- no small feat in a city and state where football is king. He had only previously played freshman ball at the high school level, returning to Adamson last spring after spending his sophomore and junior years at nearby Kimball High. I joined football because I was really looking for something to do,” Derrough-Harvey says. “Every day was really the same. I had already played when I was younger, so I kind of missed it a little bit.”

    Derrough-Harvey not only made varsity, but was also added to the leadership council, a group of hand-selected upperclassmen who lead team projects like Adamson’s campaign against domestic violence. He is more of a grinder than a flashy scoring machine, but he showed from the get-go that he plays with a sense of purpose. Josh Ragsdale, Adamson’s athletic director and eighth-year football coach, utilizes a wing-T offense and estimates Derrough-Harvey was involved in 80 percent of this year’s snaps. “He rarely goes around people, he goes through people,” Ragsdale says. “Three yards and a cloud of dust.”

    Derrough-Harvey carries a 3.0 GPA and his favorite class is theater, where he is studying Shakespeare. The oldest of three, his mother, Melissa Derrough, calls him a “Mini-Dad” for constantly checking up on his younger brother and sister.

    Melissa had Josh when she was 16. His father, Kamau Harvey, had been her sweetheart since seventh grade. They split when Josh was four. His dad had been in and out of his life ever since, but this fall father and son had grown closer. “When I was younger, he wasn’t really around a lot,” Josh says. “But when I started playing football I invited him to come to my games. We got closer over that course of those weeks. He would cut my hair every Sunday. And whenever I needed a ride, he would take me to school.”

    Derrough-Harvey’s first varsity game was astounding. He ran for 248 yards with three touchdowns to help Adamson trounce Diamond Hill-Jarvis High 56-0. College scouts began to inquire about the Leopards’ new 5-foot-8, 200-pound tailback. But tragedy struck before his next game. Three of his friends and his former coach were killed in a single-car accident. The driver of the vehicle lost control and slammed into a tree. (Police said alcohol was not believed to have been a factor.)

    Adamson’s rivalry game against Sunset High loomed on Sept. 6, and Derrough-Harvey could barely bring himself to suit up for practice. He ultimately decided to dedicate the game to his former classmates. With the score tied in overtime, Ragsdale knew his star was feeling pressure to live up to his debut. “I just pulled him aside and told him he knew who he needed to be playing for,” Ragsdale says. Derrough-Harvey rushed for a 10-yard score that lifted Adamson to a 20-14 victory. “We were struggling in that game and I remembered [my friends],” Derrough-Harvey says. “That gave me the strength and courage I needed.” He burst into tears as his teammates rushed to form a dogpile.

    It was the first time football would provide him with a sense of normalcy and lift him up in a period of deep sorrow. It wouldn’t be the last.

    Two days after Derrough-Harvey’s heroics against Sunset, on Sept. 8, TMZ leaked the now-infamous video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée and now wife, Janay Palmer Rice, in an Atlantic City elevator. It was the landmark moment in a domestic violence scandal that became an ongoing national storyline.

    The NFL suspended Rice indefinitely. In Dallas, Ragsdale’s phone lit up with messages from players. “I got 30 texts like, ‘Coach, can you believe this?’” Ragsdale recalls. “Had we not done this project, when this Ray Rice incident happened I don’t think it would have meant much to my guys. It would’ve just been another football player getting in trouble."

    Derrough-Harvey couldn’t have known then that the issue of domestic violence was about to hit far too close to home.

    The morning of Sept. 25, 2014, began like any other. Derrough-Harvey awoke around 7 a.m. and ate a bowl of cereal. His father showed up to give him a ride to school. “When I got out of the car he said, ‘Son, I’m real proud of you,” Derrough-Harvey remembers. “I had been on the local news a lot for our domestic violence project. I got out of the car and he gave me a couple of bucks for lunch money and I said, ‘See you later, dad.’”

    He never would. According to records obtained from the Cedar Hill, Texas, police department, at 11:05 a.m. officers in the nearby Dallas suburb responded to a caller who said her boyfriend -- Derrough-Harvey’s father -- was “trying to kill her.”

    According to the report, “during a dispute between the suspect and the victim, the suspect produced a handgun and began firing at the victim as the victim ran away from the suspect through the alley. The victim was struck by several rounds of gunfire. The suspect then turned the gun on himself and took his own life by a self-inflicted gunshot.”

    That evening, as his team prepared for warm-ups before a game against Samuell High, Ragsdale’s phone rang. It was a school security officer who broke the news about Harvey. Shaken, Ragsdale called Derrough-Harvey into the trainer’s room.

    “He was like, ‘Um, what’s your dad’s name?” Derrough-Harvey remembers, “And I thought, ‘Whoa, why does Rags need to know that?’”

    “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a coach,” Ragsdale says of telling Derrough-Harvey about what his father had done. “Nothing prepares you for that. There’s no school, there’s no college that prepares you to have to break that news to a young man.” The two hugged, cried and prayed together and then Ragsdale offered his tailback ride to the school.

    Without skipping a beat Derrough-Harvey said, ‘No coach, I’m playing.’ He added: “Football brought me and my dad back together, so I’m going to play tonight.”

    At first, knowing his dad had turned to domestic violence gave Derrough-Harvey pause about continuing with the team’s campaign. But an invitation to a pancake breakfast held by Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings (an anti-domestic violence advocate) impacted his decision. That morning actor Victor Rivers spoke about growing up in an abusive household and Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin told fathers and sons in attendance never to tolerate even a single act of abuse against women.

    “Listening to those stories inspired me to keep going and not to give up on the project,” Derrough-Harvey says. “I realized I would have a bigger platform to promote what is right versus wrong.”

    Derrough-Harvey’s mom had doubts about her son continuing with the initiative, but Josh quickly put them to rest. “Initially I was nervous,” she says. “Like he was going to get some kind of backlash. When I talked to him about it, he said, ‘Mama, I love my daddy, but I am not my dad’s mistakes. My daddy made his own choices, his own decisions. I’m Josh. I have to make my own choices and decisions.’”

    His choice was courageous. Derrough-Harvey had once seen an argument between his mother and father turn physical when he was four. At age 10 he saw his cousins get into what he called “a really bad altercation” with each other.

    “Before, I thought it was OK because we’re all family,” Derrough-Harvey says. “But now I know you shouldn’t let it happen. When I joined the team, the cause wasn’t really close to my heart. Sure, I had experienced it, but I didn’t really understand what had happened until I learned more about domestic violence.”

    Melissa says she is proud of her son’s stance. She knew what Josh had witnessed that time when he was four, and she didn’t let it go unacknowledged. “I had to let him know it’s not right, it’s not what you should do,” she says. “You just don’t hit women. There’s no other way to put it. It’s clear-cut. Dry.”

    All these years later Melissa knows she did the right thing. “When [the shooting] happened,” she says, “there was a fear that could have been me.”

    The Leopards went 4-6 this fall and missed the playoffs. Still, the team knows there was more to the season than wins and losses.

    Senior offensive tackle David Banda told Derrough-Harvey he dedicated the rest of the season to him after seeing his brave display the night Adamson played Samuell, a 28-0 loss. “For something like that to happen to a teammate, that doesn’t happen in real life. That happens in a movie,” Banda says. “I told him that I respected him for what he did. Not a lot of people would [play on]. It showed him as a man, not just as an athlete.”

    Offensive guard and middle linebacker Joseph Taylor says: “People look at him and think, if he can smile through all this pain, why can’t we?”

    Derrough-Harvey hopes to play football in college. A lingering ankle injury hampered his statistics, but he is considering attending junior college. Ragsdale believes Derrough-Harvey will succeed in whatever he chooses to pursue. “He has willpower, he has heart, he has drive to be successful. If I’m ever blessed enough to have a son, I hope he has those traits,” says Ragsdale, the stepfather to 10-year-old twin girls.

    “Have I coached better football players? Yes. Have I coached better people? I don’t know that I have. “

    During this night at Sprague Stadium, Derrough-Harvey offers a simple smile to each person he greets as he makes his way through the bleachers asking spectators to sign the pledge and stand up to abuse. “Whenever they say yes, it’s a really rewarding feeling,” he says. “Whenever they tell me no, it’s heartbreaking.” Still, he doesn’t share his painful connection to domestic violence with the people he meets in the stands, not even the ones who decline to participate.

    Today, though, is different. He is telling his story to the world. Derrough-Harvey wants to know: Will you sign the pledge?

    Read the full article at SportsIllustrated.com!