• Dallas - Fort Worth domestic violence shelters running at capacity

    by Manju Alexander | Jul 05, 2012

    Learn more about the urgent need for resources in the Dallas Morning News article.

    Dallas- Fort Worth Domestic Violence Shelters Running at Capacity
    by Christina Rosales
    Dallas Morning News
    June 24, 2012

    Summer is always a peak time for area domestic violence shelters, but this year’s numbers are surging earlier than usual, stretching already scarce resources to the limit.

    “That doesn’t mean ‘don’t call because we’re filled,’” said Mary Lee Hafley, executive director of SafeHaven of Tarrant County. “We’ll always make room for women who are in danger.”

    Experts point to several causes for the spike, including underemployment and even recent high-profile family violence cases. Shelters routinely see more women seeking help in the summer, when there is more time to organize an escape with children.

    SafeHaven and the Family Place in Dallas — the two biggest shelters in the area — report more than a 15 percent increase in women seeking shelter so far this year over 2011. Genesis Women’s Shelter in Dallas reports a 20 percent jump in women seeking non-shelter assistance, such as counseling.

    “We’re stretched as thin as we can go,” said Jan Langbein of Genesis. “I think we need our community to wrap its arms around the issue and be part of the solution.

    ”Texas ranked second in the nation — just behind California — with nearly 32,000 calls to the National Domestic Violence hotline last year. More than one in four callers nationally need emergency shelter.

    Couldn’t just leave

    Nina Abruzi, a mother of two, moved with her husband from Arizona to Texas. Her husband forced her away from her family and friends there and didn’t let her take a job that would give her independence once they moved here.

    “Things were getting bad to the point I didn’t want my kids around that environment any longer,” Abruzi said. But leaving her husband seemed almost impossible, she said.

    That limbo is a critical time. Once an abused woman has made the decision to leave, it takes a lot of organization and, ultimately, good timing, said Noel Busch-Armendariz, director of the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at the University of Texas at Austin.

    Abruzi agreed. She said she waited until her children were on spring break so she could plan a trip to see her father in St. Louis. She took the kids on the trip and then came back to Texas. She never returned to her husband.

    “It’s during those vacation times,” Abruzi said, when the kids are home and they witness more abuse than they normally do, that “the mom’s need to protect their children is heightened. I was more aware of it then.”

    She ended up at SafeHaven of Tarrant County in March 2010 and stayed in its emergency shelter for about a month. She recently graduated from a transitional program, where she and her children received counseling.

    Resources thin

    Busch-Armendariz said most shelters in Texas operate at capacity all year since the recession. While the economy has crawled toward recovery, some families’ financial situations have not. Academic research shows this is a stress trigger for abusers.

    “Those families experiencing unemployment seek shelters at a higher rate,” the professor said. “And really the need for shelters in the state has almost always outweighed the capacity.

    ”As of now, shelter services are as in demand as ever, said Paige Flink executive director of the Family Place.

    “Food bills have been up and electricity and transportation,” Flink said. “Shelters in the area are shuffling referrals around so sometimes we even have to put a lady and children in a hotel.

    ”There’s no telling when that demand for services, including emergency shelter, child care and counseling, will level out.

    The Family Place has 100 beds, and they’ve been full for a few weeks, Flink said. SafeHaven has 174 beds with their Fort Worth and Arlington shelters combined. Those have been filled nearly every day.

    Hafley, director of the SafeHaven shelter, said Congress cut funding to domestic violence shelters this year, leaving most shelters short on funds. One result is that overrun shelters must limit the time families can stay and get the counseling they need.

    More attention

    Experts say abuse hotline calls soar right after a high-profile case. Busch-Armendariz used the example of the reported abuse of singer Rihanna by her boyfriend, Chris Brown.

    In the past year, North Texas has seen its share of extreme cases. There was a father who killed his wife, children and several family members at his son’s roller rink birthday party in Grand Prairie last year.

    There was the Christmas Day shooting in Grapevine, when a father fatally shot six of his family members, including his wife and children, before shooting himself.

    “Those big, high-profile cases could play a role in more women seeking help,” the professor said. “Women might say ‘I don’t want that to be me.

    ’”Shelter directors said the victims in those cases are most likely women who never sought help.

    “We’re trying to prevent these dangerous situations from escalating any further and trying to help women in dangerous situations,” Flink said. “Of course that means more clients, and I don’t know how we’ll handle them, but the ultimate goal is their safety.”

    Where to get help

    Family Place: 214-941-1991 or familyplace.org

    National Domestic Violence hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or thehotline.org

    Genesis Women’s Shelter hotline: 214-946-4357 or genesisshelter.org

    SafeHaven of Tarrant County: 1-877-701-7233 or safehaventc.org

  • The Family Place’s Texas Trailblazers Award Kicks Off

    by Manju Alexander | Jun 01, 2012

    The Kick-off Reception for the Texas Trailblazer Awards was held on May 8, 2012. Honorary chairs Diane and Daryl Johnston, as well as luncheon Co-chairs Anh and Loc Trieu and Amanda and Lloyd Ward were in attendance. Together, The Family Place was happy to announce that former Syracuse University/NFL quarterback Don McPherson will be the guest speaker for the 2012 Texas Trailblazer Luncheon on September 19, 2012.

    Click here for the full report on MySweetCharity.com.

    Click here to read a post on Dallasblog.com about the Texas Trailblazer Kick-off.

    2012 Texas Trailblazer Award Kick-off Reception

  • Read Paige Flink's Opinion Editorial in The Dallas Morning News about the powerful work VAWA has done in Dallas.

    by Judy Hudson | May 31, 2012

    VAWA will be voted on by the full House of Representatives next Wednesday. A "YES" vote on HR 4970 will roll back VAWA protections that have made our community, state and country safer for the last 18 years!

    Click here to read the full article.

  • Welcome to our New Website!

    by Judy Hudson | May 31, 2012

    On behalf of all of us here at The Family Place, welcome to our newly redesigned website!

    Inside The Family Place is the place to come to find out what’s going on at The Family Place. Please take a look around our site and see all the new exciting features ! If you have any questions or comments about the site in general, feel free to email us at webmaster@familyplace.org.