• Read Part 9 of the Deadly Affection Series in The Dallas Morning News

    by Emily Roberts | Oct 21, 2014

    ‘Men can certainly change’
    Father of two says the batterer prevention program alone can’t solve problem of domestic violence, but it provides a good starting point

    October 19, 2014
    by Diane Jennings
    The Dallas Morning News

    Joe Colucci admits he was arrogant; egotistical; controlling; unwilling to deal with emotions; and yes, abusive.

    But the 52-year-old divorced father of two stresses now that he’s not that man any more. And he doesn’t want his son to be like he was or his daughter to be involved with a person like that.

    “I don’t want anybody’s daughter to be with somebody like that,” he says.

    So Colucci speaks out about domestic violence, not only during October which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but all year, from a rare perspective — that of a former abuser.

    “The message I want to put out there?” he asks. “Men can certainly change. Is it common? I don’t think so. Is it possible? Absolutely. I’m sitting here as an example of that.”

    Colucci says he changed after twice going through a Batterer Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP) at Hope’s Door, a Collin County shelter.

    Treatment for batterers began in the 1970s. An estimated 1,500 to 2,500 BIPP classes are held across the country, according to a 2009 report by the Family Violence Prevention Fund and the National Institute of Justice. Most clients are ordered to attend by a judge. Colucci, however, enrolled at the request of his then-fiancée.

    Experts are divided on whether BIPP works because success is difficult to define and data hard to come by.

    But Colucci says while BIPP alone can’t solve the problem of domestic violence, it provides a good starting point if someone wants to stop being abusive.

    “I finally realized I did need to change,” he says, his voice hitching with emotion. “You just get to a certain point where you gotta say, ‘You know what? It’s not everybody else. It’s me. And I’ve got to do something different.’”

    Recognizing abuse

    One of the biggest concepts BIPP attempts to teach during the 24 week course is to recognize abuse. Many men don’t see their behavior as abusive.

    “I know the gravity of the issues,” says Crystal, a BIPP facilitator who asked her last name not be used for safety reasons. For instance, since The Dallas Morning News began tracking domestic violence fatalities at the beginning of the year through the “Deadly Affection” series, 30 people have been killed in North Texas by someone close to them. Dallas was recently rated the deadliest county in the state for women by the Texas Council on Family Violence.

    Most of Crystal’s clients, “can see on the news somebody killed their wife and separate it from them. That’s the hardest part to get them to see ‘You are in this category. You are in the situation. This can be you ... You may not be the person killing his partner yet — how do you think this person got here? How are you different?’”

    The first time Colucci’s ex-partner confronted him about being an abuser, he was furious. “I was like, ‘You are out of your mind,’” he recalls. “‘There’s no way.’”

    Though he never blackened an eye or broke any bones and was never arrested, he now recognizes his swearing, shoving, throwing objects and kicking down doors was abusive.

    “I terrorized her,” he says.

    Domestic violence counselors warn not to underestimate the impact of verbal and emotional abuse. Domestic violence generally starts with lower-level abuse before escalating to physical violence.

    At a recent BIPP class for parolees, Crystal asked men in the class to list the names they call their partners when angry.

    For a few minutes the half dozen or so clients grinned and chuckled in a game of one-upmanship.

    “Bitch.” “Slut.” Whore.”

    “That’s what you say to someone you love?” she asked quietly.

    The men fidgeted a little uncomfortably in their chairs. The idea that name calling was a form of violence was obviously a new and difficult concept to grasp.

    For many victims, emotional and verbal abuse is more painful than physical abuse, said David Almager, BIPP Program Director at The Family Place, a Dallas shelter. Bruises fade and bones heal, but psychological damage plays over and over in the victim’s mind. After long periods of repeated degradation, victims lose their self esteem and believe what the abuser is telling them, making it difficult to leave.

    Colucci remembers sitting in class with a professional boxer who described the physical violence he inflicted on his partner.

    “When he told us what he did, I was like…’I’m not like that.’ But you know what? When you think about it, I was just as bad as he was because the stuff that I did was emotionally scarring.”

    Power, control and choice

    At BIPP meetings for female batterers at Hope’s Door, the handful of clients repeat aloud: “I cannot control another person. I can only control myself.”

    The facilitator opens each meeting with the same statement to reinforce the fact that domestic violence is not about anger, it’s about power and control.

    Colucci says he was a “control freak” who used intimidation to get his way.

    For example, one night his partner wanted to discuss something and he didn’t. “So instead of saying, ‘hey, I don’t want to talk about this anymore,’ I jumped out of bed, grabbed the post … [and] swung the post and smashed it against the bed frame,” Colucci says. “That’s how I decided to end the conversation.”

    BIPP facilitators use various exercises to show clients that violence is a choice. Almager often asks clients if they ever slap their boss after they receive negative feedback at work.

    They don’t. Neither do they punch the police officer who stops them for speeding.

    But if their wife or partner says or does something they dislike at home, they choose to react violently.

    “Violence is always a choice,” Colucci says. “To me that’s the bottom line of it. It’s not that ‘she pushed my buttons,’ it’s that I chose to become violent at that moment because I was feeling stressed or frustrated or whatever.”

    They don’t. Neither do they punch the police officer who stops them for speeding.

    But if their wife or partner says or does something they dislike at home, they choose to react violently.

    “Violence is always a choice,” Colucci says. “To me that’s the bottom line of it. It’s not that ‘she pushed my buttons,’ it’s that I chose to become violent at that moment because I was feeling stressed or frustrated or whatever.”

    Domestic violence will persist, Colucci says, “if men don’t take the lead and start bringing it up, and talking about it, and calling other men on it.”

    His willingness to speak out is unusual, says Vinson-O’Neal, who has since left Hope’s Door. “There are a lot of men who may have made that same turnaround,” but they don’t speak up because they fear being ostracized professionally or socially.

    Colucci, who is self-employed. says he doesn’t worry about what others think. He wants to see domestic violence reduced, and is willing to do whatever he can to help. “And if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day and say ‘I’m OK. I’ve done what I can’.”

    He’s been disappointed in one of his efforts to help start a support group called A Better Way that meets at Hope’s Door. The group is designed to provide “after care” for men who have finished BIPP but still need to talk about situations they encounter.

    Unfortunately, A Better Way is “in a holding pattern,” Colucci says ruefully. “Because I can’t get guys to show up.”

    Batterer Intervention and Prevention Programs

    What they are: Classes for people who struggle with domestic violence

    What they do: Hold clients accountable for abusive behavior and teach them the basics of leading a nonviolent life.

    Who attends: Most clients are ordered to attend by the court; individuals may self refer

    How long they last: 90 minutes a week; most classes in North Texas are 24 weeks

    How much they cost: About $25 a session.

    Read the full article at DallasNews.com.

  • Despite The Death Of His Brother, Joe Torre Made It To The Texas Trailblazer Award Patron Party To Support The Family Place

    by Emily Roberts | Sep 25, 2014

    Despite The Death Of His Brother, Joe Torre Made It To The Texas Trailblazer Award Patron Party To Support The Family Place

    September 24, 2014
    by Jeanne Prejean

    Despite the death of his big brother, Frank, the previous Saturday, and the funeral Monday, Joe Torre was on hand to meet and greet the Texas Trailblazer Awards Luncheon patrons on Tuesday, September 16.

    Benefiting The Family Place, the cause was one that was very near and dear to both Joe and Frank  — domestic abuse.

    The Terrace Ballroom at Le Méridien Dallas, The Stoneleigh was jammed with folks. So much so, that if you didn’t know your baseball, you would have sworn that Joe was just another guest. He melted into the crowd that included Amy Simmons, Lee Ann and Alan White, Brill Garrett, Jill Smith, Marnie and Kern Wildenthal, Maggie Kipp, Amanda Ward, Dawn Spalding and Ramona Jones.

    Diminutive philanthropist Faye Briggs taking time out from preparationfs for Saturday’s celebration of her daughter Pebble McKenzie‘s marriage to Mike McGehee. The wedding was a family affair literally. Mike is Ralph Gorman‘s nephew. In turn, Ralph is Faye’s longtime “boyfriend.” You may need a chart to figure out the relationships.

    Back to the patron party.

    Luncheon organizers were whispering that the Wednesday luncheon was going to be a record breaker for the annual event “honoring those who create significant positive change in our North Texas community.”

    This year’s event honoring the legacy of the late Harold C.  Simmons was a first for two reason: First, it was the first time that a man had been named a Texas Trailblazer. Second, it was the first time it was being given to someone posthumously.

    After The Family Place’s Paige Flink welcomed the crowd and recognized key people like Harold’s widow Annette Simmons and daughter Amy, Mayor Mike Rawlings and Luncheon Co-Chairs Stephanie and Travis Hollman, Carol Seay and her daughter-in-law Stephanie Seay, the guests lined up to have their photos taken with Joe.

    Read the full article and photos at MySweetCharity.com.

  • Read Part 8 of the Deadly Affection Series by The Dallas Morning News

    by Emily Roberts | Sep 25, 2014

    Deadly Affection - Part : In church, a taboo topic 
    Religious leaders try to break silence about domestic violence among flock

    September 23, 2014
    by Dianne Jennings
    The Dallas Morning News

    Here in what some call the “buckle of the Bible Belt,” the faithful regularly flock to houses of worship for guidance. Dedicated clergy preach about forgiveness and gratitude, the need to help the poor or comfort the grieving.

    But religious leaders — in churches, synagogues or mosques — rarely address what to do if Mom or Dad try to kill each other.

    A recent survey by Christian-based LifeWay Research showed that almost two-thirds of 1,000 Protestant pastors said they speak about domestic violence once a year or less.

    “When there are things we don’t talk about, this is one of them,” said Michael McKee, bishop of the North Texas conference of the United Methodist Church.

    Academics call it the “Holy Hush.”

    But faith can be a powerful recovery tool, so local shelter workers are trying to break the clergy’s reluctance to deal with family violence by pushing them to recognize the problem, get training to address it and bring attention to it by preaching about it.

    Many pastors want to do more to help domestic violence victims but say they need more training.

    “We will always have this problem,” said Dr. Marie Fortune, a United Church of Christ minister who founded the Faith Trust Institute, which works to educate clergy about domestic violence. “But what we’re working toward is making it rare and unusual.”

    ‘Not in my church’

    When Jessica Brazeal, assistant director of clinical services at Genesis Women’s Shelter, went to work for the shelter four years ago she learned domestic violence affects 1 out of 3 women. That meant victims and abusers were sitting in the pews with her on Sunday as well as at the shelter.

    “That, for me, was a big eye-opener,” said Brazeal, who holds a degree in biblical counseling.

    A lot of pastors don’t see it that way. According to LifeWay, 72 percent of pastors who speak about the issue said domestic violence is a community problem — but only 25 percent said it’s a church problem.

    The “not in my church” notion is “a chicken and an egg problem,” said Fortune. “If you don’t look for it, then you’re not going to see it. And if you don’t know what to look for, it’s all happening but you’re not seeing it.”

    The Rev. Bobby Gibson Sr., associate pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, said his first professional encounter with domestic violence happened when a woman confided to his wife that her husband was abusing her. From what Gibson knew of the couple, though, he “just didn’t think that he [the husband] was capable of that.”

    But when the abuser was confronted, he “didn’t deny that it had happened,” Gibson said.

    Many incidents and a lot of education later, Gibson is “very much less skeptical.” Now when a victim approaches Gibson or a staffer at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, we “go in just openly honestly listening and believe the person.” They then work to find community resources to help. And at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, it’s not unusual to hear the Rev. Tony Evans, senior pastor, discussing the topic as he did last Sunday when he told parishioners that “submission never means abuse.”

    Gibson’s initial reaction is not unusual, Brazeal said.

    Recognizing abuse is sometimes difficult for clergy because the abuser often “seems like a great guy,” she said. “He’s in the choir, he’s head of the ushers, he is the chair of some committee. So when she comes forward and says, ‘This is what’s going on,’ it makes it harder to believe.”

    Chidinma Ward was disappointed by her church’s response after her estranged husband held her at gunpoint for hours. Even though he was arrested and convicted, “Nobody wanted to take sides when I was asking for help.”

    “It surprised me,” she said. “It hurt me.”

    “By not taking a side, you’re taking a side.”

    Long list of fears

    In addition to fearing they won’t be believed, victims are often reluctant to talk to their spiritual leader because they may not be ready to leave; they may worry about their abuser losing his job or going to jail; and they may feel ashamed their marriage falls short of the religious ideal.

    Dr. Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, professor of pastoral care at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, cautioned against blaming victims for not coming forward.

    “They are surviving,” she said. “They keep things under control so the abuser won’t kill them.”

    Women of faith are no more likely than secular women to be victims of domestic violence, said Dr. Nancy Nason-Clark, who studies abuse, faith, gender and culture at the University of New Brunswick in Canada. “But the journey after violence has occurred can be very different for women of deep religious commitment.”

    Vanessa Vaughter, education program manager at Hope’s Door, remembered when a domestic violence victim told her, “I’d rather be dead than divorced.”

    Her faith told her divorce was a sin, said Vaughter, who graduated from seminary. “And she felt like she would be a failure.”

    One reason pastors don’t talk about domestic violence, McKee said, is “because we don’t know what to do if someone comes to us.”

    Indeed, more than half of the pastors surveyed by LifeWay said they didn’t feel sufficiently trained to deal with domestic violence.

    When McKee attended seminary in the 1970s, the subject rarely came up. Today some seminaries mention it in passing while others delve deeper.

    In a recent class on pastoral care for women at Perkins, students took part in a role-playing exercise called “In Her Shoes” to try to understand the experience of abuse victims.

    The exercise, which included hypothetical trips to the hospital for injuries — and to the funeral home if their character was killed — was painful for many students. For some, the discomfort came from awareness of how often the clergy fails victims.

    “It’s a tragedy,” said Reggie Nelson of pastors’ previous reluctance to address domestic violence. “I’m a preacher’s child ... I’m in seminary. And I would tell somebody, ‘You don’t want to go to your pastor — you want to go get some help.’”

    Stevenson-Moessner designed the elective classes to make the next generation of pastor’s “church changers.”

    Some of the electives require students to be trained in domestic violence at a local shelter, while others work at a rape crisis center. Stevenson-Moessner makes a point of framing the certificates students receive so they can be hung on the wall of a new pastor’s office immediately — signaling to anyone seeking help that he or she is qualified to make a referral.


    Stevenson-Moessner said she was “mobilized” to study the church’s role in domestic violence when she heard an evangelist tell a college audience that “women are to be submissive to their husbands even if they are beaten to a bloody pulp. In doing so, they may win their husband to the Christ.”

    “I thought if this was what the Bible teaches, I need to rethink following this god,” she said.

    Ultimately she decided the evangelist was misinterpreting Scripture. Many others agree.

    “When someone is abusing someone else, particularly a man against a wife, it’s not because of their faith,” said Steven Smith, professor of communication at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. “It’s because they’re practicing inconsistently with what their faith teaches.”

    Rabbi Howard Wolk, community chaplain for Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas, said anyone who uses sacred passages to justify abuse is perverting Judaism. “In Jewish law, there’s absolutely no justification, no grounds, for a husband being abusive of a spouse or a wife being abusive of a husband.”

    And Mona Kafeel, chief operating officer for the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, said that using sacred passages to justify abuse is always a misinterpretation.

    Still, such interpretations persist, counselors said.

    When Connie Nash showed up at church “black and blue” from her husband’s beatings, a pastor told her she “needed to keep forgiving, and I needed to pray for him and just keep asking God to change him and to help me be a better wife,” she remembered.

    She felt church leaders wanted her to remain married because she’d made a commitment “till death do us part.”

    “People don’t literally think they’re going to have to take it to that extent,” she said. “That I might actually die being married to this person.”

    She wrestled with the belief that divorce is a sin, but eventually a counselor pointed out to her that Jesus forgives.

    “It was like a light bulb went off in my head,” Nash said.

    When she was told she would not be welcome at services if she went through with the divorce, “I kind of felt bummed out about church,” Nash said, “but I never turned my back on God.”

    Today she doesn’t have a church home. But she still has “my time with God daily.”

    Training for clergy

    Nash now uses her experience to help others, including attending a recent “Safe on Sunday” training session for clergy.

    “Safe on Sunday” is one of several informal clergy trainings offered by local shelters. The name stems from the fact that more domestic violence is reported on Sunday than any other day. One reason for that may be some sort of carryover effect from Saturday night excesses or sporting contests.

    About 10 clergy members attended a recent session held at Union, a nonprofit coffee shop sponsored by the United Methodist Church, in conjunction with The Family Place.

    Experts say that while most religious leaders want to help domestic violence victims, they need training because their natural instincts may do more harm than good.

    Protestant pastors and domestic violence

    A thousand clergy were surveyed in May about their awareness and approach to the problems of domestic violence in a project sponsored by Sojourners and IMA World Health. Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research which conducted the survey, said pastors rarely talk about the issue, but they would like more training to know how to help.

    For instance, many faith leaders suggest marital counseling when confronted with domestic violence. But that’s “an incredibly dangerous response,” said the Rev. Mike Baughman, who ran the seminar.

    Marital or couples counseling sends a message that the abuser’s behavior is the victim’s fault.

    Learning to refer victims to professionals is a key training tool for clergy who often want to do it all themselves.

    “If you need open heart surgery you wouldn’t go to a psychiatrist, you’d go to a cardiac specialist,” McKee said. “If somebody’s having issues related to domestic violence, let’s send them to someone who really has experience with domestic violence.”

    That doesn’t negate the power of prayer, he said. “Prayer is sometimes finding the resources to help you move through this difficulty.”


    Progress in piercing the Holy Hush is slow, but it’s happening, one congregation at a time.

    In July, some local imams focused on domestic violence during a special Ramadan sermon in their mosques. Area imams have also signed a “zero tolerance” statement on domestic violence, said Kafeel.

    In August, Benjamin Dorr preached his first sermon on domestic violence at Northridge Presbyterian in Dallas at the urging of a member who works at a local shelter.

    And in October, Methodist churches across North Texas are being encouraged to address the issue during National Domestic Violence Awareness month.

    Hearing a “no abuse” message from the pulpit is critical, said Christine Woods, a survivor who serves on the board of the New Beginning Center in Garland.

    Woods said it was only when she reconnected with church that she found the strength to leave an abusive relationship.

    “Until then, I was beaten down and I was a shell of who I was,” Woods said. “I became this weak, quiet, broken person. And when I reconnected with my faith and my God, I just immediately started to get strong.”

    Bishop T.D. Jakes, senior pastor of the Potter’s House, which has an active domestic violence ministry, said preaching about the issue once a year isn’t enough. Addressing domestic violence must become part of a church’s culture.

    And that’s a tall order, he said, because religious leaders often “have this need to appear perfect. And there is this innate belief that this is not a reality in our church, that we are good people.

    “But you can be a good person and have a bad problem,” he said, “and if we open that discussion we will have done God a great service.”

    How houses of worship can help domestic violence victims:

    Talk about the problem of domestic violence — in sermons, in prayer requests, in classes.

    Display books or brochures from local resources offering victim assistance in private places such as women’s restroom stalls. Publicize domestic violence hotline numbers.

    Become familiar with community resources such as shelters to be able to make referrals.

    Provide training for church staff on how to recognize and respond to victims.

    Support the safety of victims and follow up with them if they go to court.

    If both partners continue to attend church, arrange for them to attend separate services or provide escorts for the victim.

    Read the full article and view photos at Dallasnews.com.

  • Hall of Famer Joe Torre stresses domestic violence education

    by Emily Roberts | Sep 23, 2014

    Hall of Famer Joe Torre stresses domestic violence education

    September 17, 2014
    by Sarah Mervosh
    The Dallas Morning News

    Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Torre on Wednesday stressed the importance of domestic violence education in light of recent scandals involving NFL players.

    Speaking in Dallas, Torre cited Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson as an example of the cycle of violence that persists unless awareness efforts intervene. Peterson is accused of beating his 4-year-old son with a tree branch, but the popular NFL player said he only disciplined his son as his father did him.

    “That’s where I think the education portion of this thing, if we’re going to end the cycle, is to let these youngsters know it’s not OK — that there’s a respect you have to have,” Torre said at a luncheon for The Family Place, the city’s largest domestic violence agency.

    The Family Place also recognized late billionaire and philanthropist Harold Simmons for his community contributions and for being a “an exceptional role model for Texas women and healthy families.”

    Torre, a former baseball player and New York Yankees manager, spoke interview-style with WFAA-TV (Channel 8) sports anchor Dale Hansen. Both men grew up in abusive households, and their conversation marked the intersection of athletics and advocacy at a time when domestic violence has become an unprecedented issue in the sports world.

    Peterson’s felony charge last week out of Montgomery County near Houston came just days after a video surfaced showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée out cold in an elevator.

    Torre said the recent controversies have sparked appropriate outrage and encouraged important conversations about domestic abuse.

    “I’m glad what’s happened recently that people are offended by it for a change,” Torre said.

    Torre has touted domestic violence awareness since 2002, when he founded the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation. The foundation educates children to end the cycle of abuse and provides safe-rooms at schools where kids affected by abuse can seek help.

    Torre’s childhood was marred by his father’s abusive relationship with his mother. He remembers the broken dishes, the demands for his mother to cook food in the middle of the night and the time his father reached for the drawer in the china closet where he kept his revolver.

    Torre later learned that his father, a New York City policeman, had pushed his mother down the stairs upon learning she was pregnant with Torre: “He didn’t want her to get pregnant anymore.”

    Hansen, who as a boy witnessed his father punch and break his mother’s nose, said, “What has been lost, to some degree, in the argument about domestic violence is the impact on the children.”

    Torre agreed, and said he was plagued with insecurity — even into his professional career as an All-Star catcher — because of the violent environment he grew up in.

    “I went through my whole baseball career feeling that yeah, if I got a couple of hits, I was validated,” Torre said. “But if I didn’t do well, I felt it was my fault. If I had done a little bit more, we wouldn’t have lost the ballgame.”

    Torre said he created his foundation with the hope of giving kids the message he never got as a child: “They’re not alone and it’s not their fault.”

    Read the full article at Dallasnews.com.

  • North Texas Giving Day Sets New Records

    by Emily Roberts | Sep 23, 2014

    2014 North Texas Giving Day Sets New Records

    1,580 North Texas nonprofit organizations received donations from North Texas Giving Day 2014. 98,000 donations were made, totaling $26.3 million!! From 6am to midnight, donors from around the world representing all 50 states and more than 24 countries gave to North Texas nonprofits.

    It's clear what an amazing community we have here in #NorthTexas. Thank you for your incredible generosity, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

    2014 North Texas Giving Day - You Did It

  • Domestic Abusers Can Reform, Studies Show in the WSJ

    by Emily Roberts | Sep 16, 2014

    Domestic Abusers Can Reform, Studies Show
    Many Abusive Men Who Complete Treatment Can Change Their Behavior, Experts Say

    September 15, 2014
    by Elizabeth Bernstein
    The Wall Street Journal

    The video of Ray Rice assaulting the woman who is now his wife has raised a big question about domestic violence: Can someone who has abused his partner go on to a healthy relationship?

    It isn't easy. Treating a domestic batterer can be as difficult as treating an alcohol or substance abuser, experts say. Some offenders need treatment multiple times before it works. Others are never successful at reforming their behavior, whether their partner stays or they start a new relationship.

    While both men and women commit acts of intimate-partner violence, as experts call it, approximately 85% of victims are female. Decades of studies show that about 60% to 70% of abusive men who complete a comprehensive batterer treatment program can reform, says Jeffrey L. Edleson, professor and dean of the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley, and an expert on domestic abuse.

    One of the most thorough and well-designed studies on the topic was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and conducted by Edward Gondolf, now a professor emeritus at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. It was summarized in 2004 in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior. The study spent four years following 618 men who entered batterer-intervention programs in one of four cities, as well as their female partners starting when the men entered the program.

    The study found that at the 30-month follow-up, more than 80% of the men had not re-assaulted their partner in the previous year, and at the 48-month follow-up, 90% of the men had not assaulted their partner in the past year. The treatment programs were small education-therapy groups, meeting at least once a week for between four months and a year. "Men who completed the program were much less likely to abuse their partners," Dr. Gondolf says.

    The study also showed that at both of these follow-up points, two-thirds of the women (some the original partners of the men, some new) said that their quality of life had improved, and 85% of the women said they felt very safe.

    Men who complete batterer-intervention programs are just a minority of those who enroll—and they typically enroll only after they've been mandated by a court to do so. Still, Dr. Edleson says tens of thousands of men have been arrested for intimate-partner abuse and have learned to become nonviolent.

    Experts say intimate-partner violence is, like other forms of domestic violence, primarily a learned behavior. But someone who grew up witnessing or experiencing domestic abuse or who has a history of criminal behavior is much more likely to be abusive than someone who didn't.

    There are different types of intimate-partner abusers, experts say. A subtype often referred to in the field as the Intimate Partner Terrorist is the "worst of the worst," says David B. Wexler, executive director of the Relationship Training Institute in San Diego, a nonprofit organization that designs and runs domestic violence treatment programs.

    The man is obsessed with power and control, terrorizes his partner, erodes her self-esteem, wields financial control and is jealous and possessive. This type of abuser is almost impossible to change, Dr. Wexler says.

    The vast majority of abusers are men who perpetrate what is known as Situational Couple Violence. They aren't out to dominate their partner. But they have very poor relationship skills and very quick triggers.

    A round of typical anger-management training isn't enough to help these men. They need to commit to a comprehensive batterer intervention program, often going at least once a week for four months to a year.

    Experts say the best of these programs pair education with psychotherapy in a small group setting. The men learn communication skills. And they learn how to think differently about the situation they are in, how to change sexist ideas and how to tolerate conflict in a relationship without seeing it as an insult to their manhood.

    "To sit in a room and see men talking in ways that broaden a definition of what men can do, that is a key part of the change process," Dr. Wexler says.

    Men who successfully reform "are at a stage where they can accept that they have a problem and are motivated to make change," says Dr. Edleson, of the University of California, Berkeley.

    A major factor in most of these men's motivation is their desire to save their relationship, says Barbara Gilin, a licensed clinical social worker and associate clinical professor for social work education at Widener University in Chester, Pa., who has worked with intimate-partner violence victims and their abusers for 35 years.

    "The longer the women can hold out not living with the partner, the more motivated the partner is to change, she says. "They are so afraid they will lose their woman."

    Dr. Wexler says that about half of men who go through the treatment program do so while continuing their romantic relationship, while half separate or split with their partner. Some of the men who split with their partner eventually restart the relationship successfully or form a new relationship.

    The odds of successful change go up for these men when five other factors are present, Ms. Gilin says:

    1) They feel bad or guilty about harming their partner. About 25% of men never feel guilty, Ms. Gilin says. "And there is a whole middle ground where there is some guilt and then it takes some time in the group to really start to understand that they are responsible," she says.

    2) They take full responsibility for their actions and don't blame their partner.

    3) They are motivated to change their values and be a different, better person.

    4) They are willing to examine the effect abuse in their childhood had on them.

    5) They understand that intimidating and bullying behaviors need to be stopped, along with physical violence.

    "What I and other people look for in that first moment is the degree of real remorse and how much he takes responsibility for 100% of what he did," Ms. Gilin says. "And the main factor that determines whether a man is going to change is whether he sticks to the program."

    Read the full article on WSJ.com.

  • When will men step up and stop the violence against women

    by Emily Roberts | Sep 16, 2014

    When will men step up and stop the violence against women?

    September 12, 2014
    by Alex Flink
    The Dallas Morning News - Letters to the Editor

    As a young man approaching the age of domestication, it scares me to think that domestic violence, an issue my mother has spent my entire life fighting against, will likely still be an issue when my own children are born.

    But it does not have to be this way. We no longer live in the Mad Men-esque, misogynistic culture of our parents. Whatever gender roles were present in that day no longer exist.

    Too many people have characterized Ray Rice’s behavior as a mistake or judgment error. In reality, the fact that there was any level of judgment involved in his actions proves that, regardless of what Ray Rice says in public, on some level, he rationalized his decision to hit a woman. That is the true issue. As men in a generation that will very soon be in the cultural driver’s seat, we must step up and remedy the situation.

    What will it take for us to take a stand? What we need is to look in the mirror and figure out exactly what kind of men we want to be for our children, our significant others, our parents, our friends and our families. We don’t need more Ray Rices, Charlie Sheens or Chris Browns. These individuals do not deserve fame or recognition. Their definition of being a man is not worthy of any attention.

    I speak to men everywhere when I say that we should raise our hands — not against our loved ones but against domestic violence. Let’s strike down abuse of all kinds, physical or emotional, and create a healthy and loving environment for our sons and daughters and generations to come.

    Alex Flink, Dallas

    son of Paige Flink, CEO of the Family Place

  • Churches Urged To Address Domestic Violence

    by Emily Roberts | Sep 16, 2014

    Churches Urged To Address Domestic Violence

    September 9, 2014

    A coffee shop and advocacy group are teaming up to take on domestic violence.  The Family Place, the largest domestic violence service provider in North Texas, and Union Coffee are challenging churches to address the issue during services with their “Safe. On. Sunday.” campaign.

    The campaign will offer training to church leaders, who can pass that information on to their congregation.  The sessions will help pastors identify domestic violence among their parishioners, as well as give them tools to respond to victims and abusers in the congregation.

    According to a news release provided by both groups, more family violence cases are reported on Sunday than on any other day.

    While the recently released video showing former NFL player Ray Rice hitting and knocking out his fiancee, Janay Palmer, has sparked a national debate about domestic violence, the S.O.S. campaign is months in the making.

    “We’ve been working on this for about 6 months,” said Reverend Michael Baughman, who will lead the training along with Theresa Little, a licensed social worker and Assistant Director of Community Outreach Services at The Family Place.

    Baughman, who also works as the Executive Director/Community Curator at Union Coffee, has worked in churches for more than 15 years.

    “Often times clergy, with really good intentions, do things that are hurtful to the situation,” said Baughman about domestic violence.  “Sometimes women are encouraged to stay to protect the marriage or for the children.”

    Baughman says when it comes to those touched by domestic violence (victims and abusers0, there is no statistic difference between those who attend church and those who don’t.  For that reason, Baughman wants to encourage churches to talk openly about this issue.

    “The biggest ally of an abuser is silence…so when we don’t talk about it as a society, victims will accept or believe this is the way things are,” he said.

    “We need to talk more about it,” Little agreed.  In her experience with churches and domestic violence, she “found out a lot don’t know what to do.  They don’t even know what it looks like.”

    She tells a story about a woman she met years ago, who was conflicted about getting a restraining order against her pastor husband, even though she had witnessed him sexually abuse their 10-year-old daughter.

    Women, who make up a majority of many churches, are often conflicted about faith, domestic violence and divorce, according to Little.

    “I’m not interested in saving a marriage. A marriage can be restored, but a life cannot.”

    Baughman says several church leaders have already committed to going through the training.  The sessions will be offered Thursday, September 11 from 10am-2pm  and Friday, September 19 from 10am-2pm.

    Read the full article at CBSDFW.com.

  • Union and The Family Place Team Up to help make Sundays Safe

    by Emily Roberts | Sep 16, 2014

    Union Coffee and the Family Place Team Up on Safe on Sunday

    September 3, 2014
    by Sheron C. Patterson
    North Texas Conference News

    When a coffeehouse and a domestic violence shelter unite to fight abuse, the results are something new and innovative for victims and abusers. Together, Union Coffee House and the Family Place are launching S.O.S. — Safe on Sunday — a domestic violence prevention campaign this month.

    S.O.S. offers domestic violence awareness and prevention training for pastors and professionals at Union Coffee House, in order that sermons on domestic violence can be preached every Sunday in October. S.O.S also seeks to recruit as many churches and organizations as possible to spread the word of hope and healing for victims and abusers. Lay people are asked to spread the word among their personal and professional contacts.

    What is the word?

    Sunday is the No. 1 day of the week for domestic violence reports.

    Churchgoers are just as likely as the general public to be domestic violence victims and abusers.

    Most victims and abusers have never heard the church address family violence in sermons, prayers, Sunday school or other church programming.

    Union Coffee House is a contemporary United Methodist worship place that uses “the energy of great coffee” to unite people and impact issues such as hunger and juvenile delinquency. The Rev. Michael Baughman, who leads Union Coffee, actually has domestic violence awareness in his blood.

    “I didn’t know much about domestic violence until my mother took a position as the executive director of Jersey Battered Women’s Services,” he said. “Shortly after that, I learned that domestic violence was just as prevalent in the church as it was in the rest of society. I started to talk about domestic violence in church and was amazed at how many stories emerged from people I loved who were victims.

    “After Mayor Mike Rawlings’ march against domestic violence a year and a half ago, I preached the following Sunday [Palm Sunday] about domestic violence at University Park UMC,” he said.

    Paige Flink, executive director of the Family Place, was in the congregation.

    The Family Place is a Dallas-based domestic violence awareness and prevention center that provides free, comprehensive services to prevent abuse and support victims on the path from fear to safety.

    In 2013, it served 11,758 clients.

    Flink told Baughman that one of the most difficult groups to get involved in the domestic violence movement was churches.

    “I shared that story with members of the Union community, and we decided to team up and try to address the challenge,” he said.

    “Focusing on the faith communities to reach domestic violence victims makes perfect sense,” Flink said. “Research shows that the first person a victim reaches out to is a pastor. If that pastor supports a patriarchal system or does not know how to help her, she will not return.”

    Flink started volunteering at the Family Place about 28 years ago and has led the center for 17 years.

    Flink offered a checklist for pastors and church professionals.

    The Family Place has a large batterer intervention and prevention program.

    Last year, 1,000 men went through the program, ordered by the court system to attend 24 weeks, and paying a fee to do so.

    “Our program makes a huge difference. We track them and 92 percent do not re-offend. Stopping male violence is a community effort,” Flink said. “We play into it when we laugh at jokes or hear him put her down. It is hard for men to confront another man. Do not turn the other way.”

    Abusers, she said, “are little boys who are broken inside.”

    Read more at North Texas Conference News.

  • Watch CEO Paige Flink talk about domestic abuse on Fox Dallas

    by Emily Roberts | Sep 16, 2014

    CEO Paige Flink talks about domestic abuse, #WhyIStayed and how domestic violence victims get help at The Family Place on FOX DALLAS!

    September 9, 2014

    Click here to watch the video.

  • The Family Place Partners Learn About Upcoming Fundraising Activities And A Former Client’s Story

    by Emily Roberts | Sep 16, 2014

    The Family Place Partners Learn About Upcoming Fundraising Activities And A Former Client’s Story

    September 4, 2014
    by Jeanne Prejean

    To The Family Place staff and volunteers, fall is the most active season of the year. That’s when their fundraising activities kick into high gear.  From the Back TO School drive, Partners Card to the Texas Trailblazers, their feet never seem to touch the ground for more than two seconds. And that’s exactly what was reported at The Family Place Partners general membership meeting. Plus the gals were also reminded what all this fundraising is for. Check this report from the field:

    “The Family Place Partners General Membership meeting was full of news about upcoming fall events. Melissa Sherrill, Vice-President of Development, reported that over 600 backpacks were provided to children in need through the Back TO School drive. She reminded everyone to watch The City of Dallas Domestic Violence Task Force: Private Violence – an HBO Documentary, on Monday, October 6.

    Jennifer Tobin, president of The Family Place Partners, introduced Stephanie Hollman, one of the Texas Trailblazer Awards luncheon co-chairs. She invited everyone to join in the September 17th event at the Hilton Anatole which celebrates the Legacy of Harold C. Simmons. President and Mrs. George W. Bush are distinguished chairs. Other co-chairs are Stephanie’s husband, Travis Hollman, Carol Seay and Stephanie Seay. Joe Torre is the keynote speaker, who will be interviewed by Dale Hansen, WFAA8 sportscaster.

    “Partners Card chairs Lisa Bhattacharya and Andrea Cheek recognized co-chair Diana Hamilton and announced Partners Cards are on sale Monday, September 1, online. Partners Card runs from Friday, October 24, through Sunday, November 2.

    Cameo Raymond, a Family Place client, was the guest speaker. She has been a resident of Dallas since 1998, working as a realtor for 12 years, specializing in luxury homes. Cameo came to The Family Place in 2007.

    “She met her husband in 2003. He was a mortgage lender working with her and her clients. He used controlling and manipulation and lies to turn her situation around and even frame her as an abuser to the point of losing custody of her child. She came to The Family Place who provided help and assistance needed during the tough times. Cameo stayed strong and ‘kept [her] faith in place, as truth always comes out.’ During the time of loss custody, she stayed active in the school visiting her daughter every day at lunch and forming relationships through the PTA for others to see beyond the lies for who she really is.

    “Now looking back, Cameo realized patterns and how her ex-husband positioned her to be the perpetrator, as it was all about his power and control. Cameo is successfully working on her real estate business and has custody of her daughter. She is thankful for The Family Place and assistance provided and looks forward to giving back to the cause.

    “The Family Place Partners are a group of dynamic women who support The Family Place in its mission to eliminate family violence by serving as a volunteer arm and financial partner. Founded in 1990, The Family Place Partners have made a significant impact on the organization’s ability to serve victims of family violence.

    “The Partners have a direct impact on The Family Place clients and the community through fundraising, volunteerism, advocacy and public education. Partners support The Family Place’s clients throughout the year with service projects such as Thanksgiving meals, Easter baskets, and holiday donation drives. They also organize Texas Trailblazer Luncheon and Partners Card, the agency’s largest annual fundraiser.

    “Membership is open to the community. Visit the website at http://familyplace.org/ and click on “Get Involved,” for details and for more information on the fundraisers and special events.”

    Read the full article and photos at MySweetCharity.com.

  • Dallas Police Have Improved Domestic Violence Unit, Victims And Advocates Say

    by Emily Roberts | Sep 16, 2014

    Dallas Police Have Improved Domestic Violence Unit, Victims And Advocates Say

    September 3, 2014
    by Doualy Zaykaothao
    KERA News

    In the last two years, several domestic violence cases in North Texas have made national headlines. In one, a Dallas woman was strangled while seeking help from a 911 operator. In another, a woman was killed by her estranged husband before his scheduled arrest. The Dallas Police Department has since made changes within its domestic violence unit.

    Dallas police Lt. Miguel Sarmiento doesn’t sound like a police officer; he sounds more like a therapist.

    “Love isn’t breaking somebody’s arm,” Sarmiento said. “Love isn’t choking them. Love isn’t putting a gun to their heads. Or threatening to kill their kids.”

    Growing up in South Texas, Sarmiento says his own family wasn’t immune to domestic violence. And that experience has shaped how he runs the unit, which now has 34 detectives, up from 21 just two years ago.   

    “The challenge for everybody is how do we keep that person safe between the day they filed that report to the day that their abuser gets his sentence," Sarmiento said.

    It takes a community effort, he says, and that’s why he’s already done nearly 90 talks in the Dallas area this year. There’s also new technology, and fresh blood in the department. More than half of the previous unit’s staff either retired or transferred out.

    Abuse victims are likely to notice a new way that detectives are talking, using LAP, a lethal assessment program.

    “There’s a series of questions,” Sarmiento said. “We encourage them ... we try to get them resources immediately there. So from the perspectives of the complainant, I think they are seeing more support from us. And it really doesn’t matter whether the officer believes what he’s doing. What matters is that the complainant knows that we’re helping them, doing more for them.”

    Gene-hari Allen isn’t from Texas. But the 34-year-old has family in Dallas, so she traveled here with her two young boys, from the East coast to find a job. She found that -- and a boyfriend.

    “I’ve had angry boyfriends in the past, but never ever anything like this,” Allen said. “This was the first experience where I was trying to be with someone who was in fact dangerous.”

    Allen says she didn’t realize her then-boyfriend was in a gang, and that he had a violent past.

    “I knew the guy when I first moved down here, for about six months, and then we stayed with him for about two months,” she said. “And he tried to choke me three times. It really wasn’t in front of my boys because I believe they were sleeping. But I think they heard most of it.”

    The physical abuse got so bad she finally called the Dallas police.

    "The people on the phone tried to keep me calm,” Allen said. “When the police officers arrived, they told me about the different resources, numbers I could call, to like get away from him, to get the protective order. They had him served quickly. I feel like the process went pretty fast.”

    Allen said she feels the police were helpful. She now lives in a safe house. The man she once loved, the one who strangled her three times, is in jail.

    Another woman, Denise, who declined to use her real name, says her experience with the police was different.

    “My experience with the police, before this, I would say, it was very unpleasant, very awful," Denise said.

    She’s called the police in years past, to report abuse by her husband, but often felt worse after the call. 

    “At times, they’d make me feel like I was the one, like I was the one in the wrong,” Denise said. “My husband was very abusive, physically, mentally, financially.”  

    Both these women were helped by the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation. Hind Jarrah, the group's executive director, says the challenge is complex.

    “There are so many layers when you are dealing with all these different cultures,” Jarrah said. “And with all these different faith communities, it will take help from within the community to lead to the long-term solutions.”

    Read more at KERA News.

  • Jim Harbaugh: No tolerance for domestic violence via NFL

    by Emily Roberts | Sep 16, 2014

    Jim Harbaugh: 'No tolerance' for domestic violence

    September 2, 2014
    by Marc Sessler

    Two days after defensive end Ray McDonald was arrested on felony domestic violence charges, San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh told KNBR-AM on Tuesday that the organization would offer "no tolerance" for abuse.

    "I'll be very clear," Harbaugh said, per CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco. "You ask me how I feel about domestic violence. I can be very clear about that. If someone physically abuses a woman and/or physically or mentally abuses or hurts a child, then there's no understanding. There's no tolerance for that."

    Asked if the 49ers would allow a player guilty of domestic violence to stay on the roster, Harbaugh answered: "We would not. We can be very clear."

    "There are going to be two principles at play here," Harbaugh said. "And one is, I'll speak for myself, I'll speak for the 49ers: We'll not tolerate domestic violence. The second principle, we're firm believers in due process. And I ask for your understanding on those two principles."

    The Sacramento Bee reported that police arrived at McDonald's home on Sunday at approximately 2 a.m., where a party was being held in honor of the player's birthday. McDonald appeared to have an altercation with his fiancee, who showed police bruising on her body. McDonald was then taken into custody. Other Niners players were in attendance at the party, according to the report.

    With 10 arrests on the team since 2012, Harbaugh said the organization would do "everything in our power to make sure there isn't a pattern forming."

    After NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently announced a significant change to the league's Personal Conduct Policy in regard to domestic violence, McDonald could be in for a substantial punishment.

    Read more at NFL.com.

  • Hats Off to our Graduates

    by Emily Roberts | Jul 11, 2014

    Congratulations to the 16 women who are graduating from our Supportive Living Program today!

    At this very moment, 16 women are reentering society with the skills they need to survive and raise their children. We are so proud of their accomplishments.

    How did these women achieve these amazing changes?

    The Family Place Supportive Living Program

    • Our 18-month transitional housing program produces an average of 24 graduates each year. 
    • From May 2013 to April 2014, our program served 81 women & 160 children.

    What makes our program different?

    • We meet clients where they are.
    • We transform their lives.
    • We create individualized programs based on our clients' needs.
    • We screen clients into our program not out of it.
    • Our goal = fully functioning empowerment.

    Success for these women requires an investment of time and money to break the cycle of family violence. Currently, the transformational program has a funding gap that could affect our capacity to serve the families that need it most.

    Please don't turn your backs on these families.

    Give generously today to The Family Place

  • Dallas County moves to seize guns from domestic violence offenders

    by Emily Roberts | Jul 02, 2014

    Dallas County moves to seize guns from domestic violence offenders

    July 1, 2014
    by Tanya Eiserer

    DALLAS — A groundbreaking effort to take guns out of the hands of domestic violent offenders is underway in Dallas County.

    County officials are preparing to launch a new program to force those on probation for domestic violence offenses who are subject to protective orders to surrender their firearms.

    A private gun range near Love Field has signed on to store the estimated 700 to 1,000 weapons that officials expect to confiscate every year.

    “Gun surrenders has been something that — out of all the good things that Dallas County does — we do this very poorly,” said Criminal Court Judge Roberto Cañas, who is spearheading the groundbreaking effort. “We’ve been operating on the honor system, and we don’t want to do that anymore.”

    Federal and state law forbids those convicted of domestic violence or with emergency protective orders from possessing firearms, but Dallas County didn’t have any specific mechanism for taking guns from them.

    “It’s the law, and we need to have a workable procedure to enforce the law,” said Cañas, who oversees one of the county’s two misdemeanor domestic violence courts. “Taking guns out of these situations will definitely lower the risk and save lives.”

    Under the current plan, those offenders will be asked by a judge if they have firearms. If they do, they'll be ordered to surrender them and to show proof they did so.

    Judges will be talking to victims and checking for concealed handgun licenses or other records that show the offender may have a weapon.

    “The offender will have to come back with the receipt showing that they turned it in, and I think it would also be prudent to have the storage facility to also send us some paperwork, saying that 'Mr. Smith did show up with his gun,'” Cañas said.

    The biggest obstacle officials had to overcome was where to store the guns. The county didn't have room. The police department didn’t, either. So DFW Gun Range near Love Field stepped in, agreeing to take on the job.

    The gun range isn’t planning to charge the county for storage, but if a protective order expires on a person and they become eligible to possess a weapon again, then they would be charged a small fee to get the weapon back, Cañas said. That fee would largely cover the gun range’s cost of running a federally-mandated criminal background check on the person.

    Domestic violence advocates lauded the county’s new approach.

    They believe the plan will prevent deadly outcomes, like the fatal January 2013 shooting of Karen Cox Smith, who was gunned down by her husband inside a UT Southwestern Medical Center parking lot last year.

    “It is going to help save someone’s life,” said Paige Flink, executive director of The Family Place. “Studies show that it's five times more likely that a woman will die when there's a gun in the home and there's a domestic violence offense.”

    Cañas and the other judges were meeting Tuesday to try to finalize the details of how the program will work. He expects to have the new procedures in place as soon as September.

    Read more at WFAA.com.

  • Mary Clare Finney Hosted 2014 ReuNight Letter Signing For The Family Place’s October Fundraising Supper

    by Emily Roberts | Jul 02, 2014
    Mary Clare Finney Hosted 2014 ReuNight Letter Signing For The Family Place’s October Fundraising Supper

    July 1, 2014
    by Jeanne Prejean

    Letter-signing gatherings can verge on being ho-hum occasions. Guests are handed pens and a stack of hundreds and hundreds of letters to personalize about a worthy cause or event. But the one that took place on Thursday, June 17th, was well worth getting a major hand cramp for a couple of reasons.

    First of all, it took place at Mary Clare Finney’s to-die-for estate. While it was a wee bit too warm to be outdoors, the Finney dining room was divine. Why, shoot, it’s perfect for a state dinner!

    Second, the letters to be signed were announcing plans for the October 22nd ReuNight benefiting The Family Place. And speaking of places, it will return to the Place at Perry’s. Also returning will be Merrill Lynch Private Bank Investment Group as the presenting sponsor!

    Snapshot recall of last year: Guests at last year’s fundraiser experienced fabulous cuisine, loads of wine, singing by Mary Clare and Matthew Simon and a collection to party-hearty types like Nancy Rogers, Mayor Mike Rawlings,Jody DeanSuzanne McGeeTroy SchiermeyerKeenan DelaneyEric Reeves,Janet and Phil Cobb, Kim Daulton Wynne and Shannon Wynne, Linda Gray, Kris Johnson, Piper and Mike Wyatt, Robert Weatherly, Sue and Jim Gragg, Heather and Bill Esping, Muffin Lemak, Kathy Crow and Jennifer and Cody Clark

    In fact some of them like DeeDee and Jim LeeClaire and Dwight EmanuelsonShelby WagnerNiven Morgan and Gillian Breidenbach joined 2014 ReuNight Co-Chairs Mary Clare and Kayla and Brian Roughton at the letter signing.

    But be prepared. This fun-raising fundraiser is not going to have thousands in attendance. No, siree. It’s going to be limited to just 150.

    If the letter hasn’t arrived in your mailbox, give it a day or two. But don’t wait. Go ahead and get your reservations in.

    Read more and see photo at MySweetCharity.com.

  • Gun range agrees to hold firearms of abusers in Dallas County

    by Emily Roberts | Jun 30, 2014

    Gun range agrees to hold firearms of abusers in Dallas County

    June 26, 2014
    by Sarah Mervosh and Jennifer Emily
    The Dallas Morning News

    Dallas County has cleared the biggest hurdle to taking guns away from domestic abusers deemed too dangerous to have them.

    A private gun range near Love Field has agreed to store the hundreds of guns authorities expect to confiscate each year if they begin enforcing laws that forbid certain domestic abusers from having firearms.

    Dallas County would be the first known jurisdiction in the country to rely solely on private gun storage. The outside-the-box solution is the most significant development yet in the county’s efforts to create a gun confiscation program, possibly paving the way for a launch within a few months.

    “Imagine how much better victims would sleep at night knowing all the guns had been removed,” said Jan Langbein, CEO of Genesis Women’s Shelter. “I think it will save lives. I really do.”

    The option to use a private storage facility — rather than crowded police evidence rooms — comes less than a month after The Dallas Morning News reported that the county regularly fails to enforce laws that forbid convicted abusers and subjects of protective orders from having guns. Most domestic homicides are committed with guns.

    County criminal court Judge Roberto Cañas, who stepped up this month to be the county’s point person on the issue, is working on ironing out the details with the gun range’s owner, who has hosted law enforcement training sessions and regularly conducts background checks on potential gun owners.

    “I was very elated and optimistic,” Cañas said.

    Gun and domestic violence experts say Danvers, Mass., a town of about 25,000, runs the only program similar to what Dallas County proposes. There, police send guns to a private facility, but only after they run out of space in their property room. In Austin and San Antonio, law enforcement agencies store guns that are taken from domestic batterers.

    Dallas police and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department have said they don’t have the capacity to store extra guns but will continue to be responsible for guns seized as evidence in crimes.

    “I couldn’t find another jurisdiction across the country that said, ‘We looked at the issue and we thought it was better not to go with the private entity,’ or ‘We felt as a safety issue you couldn’t go with a private entity,’” Cañas said.

    He said he will seek approval from the county commissioners to apply for a federal grant distributed by the governor’s office to help fund the effort. He said the $36,000 grant could pay for a gun safe or the salary of a county firearm liaison, for example.

    Judges also still have to agree on a procedure for obtaining the guns that will work for criminal, civil and family courts.

    Penalty for lying

    Once a policy and funding are in place, Cañas said, judges will begin asking the accused whether they own guns and requiring them to sign an affidavit. Lying could result in a new charge, probation violation or bond revocation.

    For those who say yes, the judge would order them to turn over their guns to the gun range, probably at an appointed time, and return to court with a receipt within 48 hours.

    “You would be responsible for coming back in front of me to prove that you’ve delivered the gun,” Cañas said.

    The receipt model has worked elsewhere, including in Austin and San Antonio.

    While the gun range doesn’t plan to charge the county for the partnership, Cañas said there would be a one-time fee to gun owners — probably no more than $50 — to get their guns back after the protective order expired. Some jurisdictions charge the gun owner a monthly fee for storage.

    Business opportunity

    If guns are never returned to their owners, Cañas said, the gun range would like to keep them to resell or to sell for scrap.

    “That’s where they see a business opportunity,” Cañas said.

    The owner of the gun range declined to comment until he works out the final details of the agreement with Cañas.

    Using a private facility appears to circumvent several police concerns, including their lack of space for weapons and questions about whether they have the authority to confiscate them. But Cañas said he wants to work with police to create a plan for dealing with an abuser who fails to turn a gun over as ordered.

    “To me, that would be like a red flag, alarm bells going off,” he said.

    State Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas is considering whether legislative changes are needed to facilitate gun confiscation.

    Aaron Setliff, policy director for the Texas Council of Family Violence, said the next step should be to determine whether there are any security risks to using a private facility and whether a police officer should be present during the handoff.

    But Setliff, a former prosecutor, said officials here are thinking creatively — which is key to overcoming roadblocks.

    “It’s an innovative approach that might work for Dallas,” he said.

    Read more at Dallasnews.com.

  • Plan would give Dallas police more time to file cases

    by Emily Roberts | Jun 26, 2014

    Plan would give Dallas police more time to file cases

    June 24, 2014
    by Tanya Eiserer

    DALLAS — Four men and one woman — all accused of felony family violence offenses — recently walked free from the Dallas County jail.

    None of them had posted bond.

    They were let go under a county policy that gives police agencies three business days to file misdemeanors and most felonies with prosecutors. In each of their cases, the Dallas Police Department did not file their cases in time — so they were released.

    Now, under a proposed change, detectives would have up to 10 business days to file family violence-related felonies. Judges will consider the proposal at their next meeting on July 10.

    “It’s not a good thing if they get out because of a technicality,” said District Judge Rick Magnis, the presiding judge. “That’s never good. If they do get out because of the writ, they could be potentially more lethal than your average defendant.”

    Magnis said the district attorney’s office contacted him last week about changing the rules, one day after News 8’s story raised concerns about the release of felony family violence offenders under the three-day rule. He said prosecutors brought him a formal proposal on the rule changes Monday.

    As it currently stands, only the most serious felonies — including aggravated assault and murder — fall under the 10-day rule.

    The three-day rule became an issue after dozens of offenders were released because of problems associated with DPD's records management system, which went live on June 1. At one point, there was a backlog of thousands of unprocessed reports, which resulted in detectives not being assigned to cases in time to file cases with prosecutors.

    Dallas police Chief David Brown told members of the Dallas City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Monday that the department had long had difficulty meeting the three-day deadline.

    "We’re on the clock when we make an arrest,” Brown said. “We have had struggles meeting that ... unrelated to this new records management system, and the challenge is, we have to be perfect or near perfect with how we prepare our case filings.”

    In cases where detectives didn’t meet the deadline, the department would file on the person at large, or wait until a grand jury indictment to pick the person up again, the chief said.

    Paige Flink, head of The Family Place shelter for women and children, welcomes the proposed change to county policy.

    “So often a batterer says, 'No one one’s going to do anything to me if I hurt you; you don’t matter.' And so if they get out and there’s not even a slap on the wrist, it proves his point,” Flink said.

    She also said that the change will give detectives plenty of time to “prepare the case, contact the victim and it will also give the victim more time to figure out and get herself safe and get her children safe.”

    Read more at WFAA.com.

  • Dallas Police to Round Up 250 Wanted on Domestic Violence Charges

    by Emily Roberts | Jun 26, 2014

    Dallas Police to Round Up 250 Wanted on Domestic Violence Charges

    June 24, 2014

    There will be a big push over the next four days to arrest people in Dallas wanted on domestic violence charges.

    Police and the Dallas County Sheriff's Department will go after more than 250 people wanted for active felony warrants for offenses against family members.

    Officers from patrol, METRO Unit and the Domestic Violence Unit will participate in the warrant roundup.

    "By aggressively pursuing these wanted domestic violence offenders, we hope to protect victims from further violence," the department said in a news release last week.

    The four day operation starts June 24 and runs through June 27.

    Read more and watch video at NBCDFW.com.

  • Great Resource from Upworthy and loveisrespect.org

    by Emily Roberts | Jun 26, 2014
    There are so many ways to show someone you care about them. This is not one of them. Not even close.

    If You're Dating Someone And You Get This Phone Call, Run — Don't Walk — Away!