Category Archives: Domestic Violence

Anger Management Pt-2 of 3

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Violence is out-of-control, and Domestic Violence can not be justified.

Anger Management Tips

Anger management tip 1:  Explore what’s really behind your anger

If you’re struggling with out-of-control anger, you may be wondering why your fuse is so short.  Anger problems often stem from what you’ve learned as a child.  If you watched others in your family scream, hit each other, or throw things, you might think this is how anger is supposed to be expressed. Traumatic events and high levels of stress can make you more susceptible to anger as well.

Anger is often a cover-up for other feelings

In order to get your needs met and express your anger in appropriate ways, you need to be in touch with what you are really feeling.  Are you truly angry? Or is your anger masking other feelings such as embarrassment, insecurity, hurt, shame, or vulnerability?

If your knee-jerk response in many situations is anger, it is very likely that your temper is covering up your true feelings and needs.  This is especially likely if you grew up in a family where expressing feelings was strongly discouraged. As an adult, you may have a hard time acknowledging feelings other than anger.

Clues that there’s something more to your anger

  • You have a hard time compromising.  Is it hard for you to understand other people’s points of view, and even harder to concede a point?  If you grew up in a family where anger was out of control, you may remember how the angry person got his or her way by being the loudest and most demanding. Compromising might bring up scary feelings of failure and vulnerability.
  • You have trouble expressing emotions other than anger.  Do you pride yourself on being tough and in control, never letting your guard down?  Do you feel that emotions like fear, guilt, or shame don’t apply to you? Everyone has those emotions, and if you think you don’t, you may be using anger as a cover for them.
  • You view different opinions and viewpoints as a personal challenge to you.  Do you believe that your way is always right and get angry when others disagree?  If you have a strong need to be in control or a fragile ego, you may interpret other perspectives as a challenge to your authority, rather than simply a different way of looking at things.

If you are uncomfortable with many emotions, disconnected, or stuck on an angry one-note response to everything, it might do you some good to get back in touch with your feelings.  Emotional awareness is the key to self-understanding and success in life.  Without the ability to recognize, manage, and deal with the full range of human emotions, you’ll inevitably spin into confusion, isolation, and self-doubt.

Anger management tip 2:  Be aware of your anger warning signs and triggers

While you might feel that you just explode into anger without warning, in fact, there are physical warning signs in your body.  Anger is a normal physical response.  It fuels the “fight or flight” system of the body, and the angrier you get, the more your body goes into overdrive.  Becoming aware of your own personal signs that your temper is starting to boil allows you to take steps to manage your anger before it gets out of control.

Pay attention to the way anger feels in your body

  • Knots in your stomach
  • Clenching your hands or jaw
  • Feeling clammy or flushed
  • Breathing faster
  • Headaches
  • Pacing or needing to walk around
  • “Seeing red”
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Pounding heart
  • Tensing your shoulders

Identify the negative thought patterns that trigger your temper

You may think that external things — the insensitive actions of other people, for example, or frustrating situations — are what cause your anger.  But anger problems have less to do with what happens to you than how you interpret and think about what happened.  Common negative thinking patterns that trigger and fuel anger include:

  • Overgeneralizing.  For example, “You always interrupt me.  You NEVER consider my needs.  EVERYONE disrespects me.  I NEVER get the credit I deserve.”
  • Obsessing on “shoulds” and “musts”.  Having a rigid view of the way things should or must be and getting angry when reality doesn’t line up with this vision.
  • Mind reading and jumping to conclusions.  Assuming you “know” what someone else is thinking or feeling—that he or she intentionally upset you, ignored your wishes, or disrespected you.
  • Collecting straws.  Looking for things to get upset about, usually while overlooking or blowing past anything positive.  Letting these small irritations build and build until you reach the “final straw” and explode, often over something relatively minor.
  • Blaming.  When anything bad happens or something goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault.  You blame others for the things that happen to you rather than taking responsibility for your own life.

Avoid people, places, and situations that bring out your worst

Stressful events don’t excuse anger, but understanding how these events affect you can help you take control of your environment and avoid unnecessary aggravation.  Look at your regular routine and try to identify activities, times of day, people, places, or situations that trigger irritable or angry feelings.  Maybe you get into a fight every time you go out for drinks with a certain group of friends.  Or maybe the traffic on your daily commute drives you crazy.  Then think about ways to avoid these triggers or view the situation differently so it doesn’t make your blood boil.

Anger management tip 3:  Learn ways to cool down

Once you know how to recognize the warning signs that your temper is rising and anticipate your triggers, you can act quickly to deal with your anger before it spins out of control.  There are many techniques that can help you cool down and keep your anger in check.

Quick tips for cooling down

  • Focus on the physical sensations of anger.   While it may seem counterintuitive, tuning into the way your body feels when you’re angry often lessens the emotional intensity of your anger.
  • Take some deep breaths.  Deep, slow breathing helps counteract rising tension.  The key is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible into your lungs.
  • Exercise.  A brisk walk around the block is a great idea.  It releases pent-up energy so you can approach the situation with a cooler head.
  • Use your senses.  Take advantage of the relaxing power of your sense of sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste.  You might try listening to music or picturing yourself in a favorite place.
  • Stretch or massage areas of tension.  Roll your shoulders if you are tensing them, for example, or gently massage your neck and scalp.
  • Slowly count to ten.  Focus on the counting to let your rational mind catch up with your feelings.  If you still feel out of control by the time you reach ten, start counting again.

Give yourself a reality check

When you start getting upset about something, take a moment to think about the situation.  Ask yourself:

  • How important is it in the grand scheme of things?
  • Is it really worth getting angry about it?
  • Is it worth ruining the rest of my day?
  • Is my response appropriate to the situation?
  • Is there anything I can do about it?
  • Is taking action worth my time?

Anger management tip 4:  Find healthier ways to express your anger

If you’ve decided that the situation is worth getting angry about and there’s something you can do to make it better, the key is to express your feelings in a healthy way.  When communicated respectfully and channeled effectively, anger can be a tremendous source of energy and inspiration for change.

Pinpoint what you’re really angry about

Have you ever gotten into an argument over something silly?  Big fights often happen over something small, like a dish left out or being ten minutes late.  But there’s usually a bigger issue behind it.  If you find your irritation and anger rapidly rising, ask yourself “What am I really angry about?”  Identifying the real source of frustration will help you communicate your anger better, take constructive action, and work towards a resolution.

 Take five if things get too heated

If your anger seems to be spiraling out of control, remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes or for as long as it takes you to cool down.  A brisk walk, a trip to the gym, or a few minutes listening to some music should allow you to calm down, release pent up emotion, and then approach the situation with a cooler head.

Always fight fair

It’s okay to be upset at someone, but if you don’t fight fair, the relationship will quickly break down.  Fighting fair allows you to express your own needs while still respecting others.

  • Make the relationship your priority.  Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than “winning” the argument, should always be your first priority.  Be respectful of the other person and his or her viewpoint.
  • Focus on the present.  Once you are in the heat of arguing, it’s easy to start throwing past grievances into the mix.  Rather than looking to the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the present to solve the problem.
  • Choose your battles.  Conflicts can be draining, so it’s important to consider whether the issue is really worthy of your time and energy.  If you pick your battles rather than fighting over every little thing, others will take you more seriously when you are upset.
  • Be willing to forgive.  Resolving conflict is impossible if you’re unwilling or unable to forgive.  Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish, which can never compensate for our losses and only adds to our injury by further depleting and draining our lives.
  • Know when to let something go.  If you can’t come to an agreement, agree to disagree.  It takes two people to keep an argument going.  If a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disengage and move on.

Source:  helpguide.org

Anger Management Pt-1 of 3

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Violence is out-of-control, and Domestic Violence can not be justified.

Tips and Techniques for Getting Anger
Under Control

Do you have a short fuse or find yourself getting into frequent arguments and fights?  Anger is a normal, healthy emotion, but when chronic, explosive anger spirals out of control, it can have serious consequences for your relationships, your health, and your state of mind.

With insight about the real reasons for your anger and these anger management tools, you can learn to keep your temper from hijacking your life.

Understanding Anger

The emotion of anger is neither good nor bad.  It’s perfectly healthy and normal to feel angry when you’ve been mistreated or wronged.  The feeling isn’t the problem – it’s what you do with it that makes a difference.  Anger becomes a problem when it harms you or others.

If you have a hot temper, you may feel like it’s out of your hands and there’s little you can do to tame the beast.  But you have more control over your anger than you think.  You can learn to express your emotions without hurting others – and when you do, you’ll not only feel better, you’ll also be more likely to get your needs met.  Mastering the art of anger management takes work, but the more you practice, the easier it will get.  And the payoff can be huge. Learning to control your anger and express it appropriately can help you build better relationships, achieve your goals, and lead a healthier, more satisfying life.

Myths and Facts about Anger

Myth:  I shouldn’t “hold in” my anger. It’s healthy to vent and let it out.

Fact:  While it’s true that suppressing and ignoring anger is unhealthy, venting is no better.  Anger is not something you have to “let out” in an aggressive way in order to avoid blowing up.  In fact, outbursts and tirades only fuel the fire and reinforce your anger problem.

Myth:  Anger, aggression, and intimidation help me earn respect and get what I want.

Fact:  True power doesn’t come from bullying others.  People may be afraid of you, but they won’t respect you if you can’t control yourself or handle opposing viewpoints.  Others will be more willing to listen to you and accommodate your needs if you communicate in a respectful way.

Myth:  I can’t help myself. Anger isn’t something you can control.

Fact:  You can’t always control the situation you’re in or how it makes you feel, but you can control how you express your anger.  And you can express your anger without being verbally or physically abusive.  Even if someone is pushing your buttons, you always have a choice about how to respond.

Myth:  Anger management is about learning to suppress your anger.

Fact:  Never getting angry is not a good goal.  Anger is normal, and it will come out regardless of how hard you try to suppress it.  Anger management is all about becoming aware of your underlying feelings and needs and developing healthier ways to manage upset.  Rather than trying to suppress your anger, the goal is to express it in constructive ways.

Why anger management is important

You might think that venting your anger is healthy, that the people around you are too sensitive, that your anger is justified, or that you need to show your fury to get respect.  But the truth is that anger is much more likely to damage your relationships, impair your judgment, get in the way of success, and have a negative impact on the way people see you.

  • Out-of-control anger hurts your physical health.  Constantly operating at high levels of stress and tension is bad for your health.  Chronic anger makes you more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, a weakened immune system, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
  • Out-of-control anger hurts your mental health.  Chronic anger consumes huge amounts of mental energy and clouds your thinking, making it harder to concentrate, see the bigger picture, and enjoy life.  It can also lead to stress, depression, and other mental health problems.
  • Out-of-control anger hurts your career.  Constructive criticism, creative differences, and heated debate can be healthy.  But lashing out only alienates your colleagues, supervisors, or clients and erodes their respect. What’s more, a bad reputation can follow you wherever you go, making it harder and harder to get ahead.
  • Out-of-control anger hurts your relationships with others.  It causes lasting scars in the people you love most and gets in the way of your friendships and work relationships.  Chronic, intense anger makes it hard for others to trust you, speak honestly, or feel comfortable – they never know what is going to set you off or what you will do.  Explosive anger is especially damaging to children.
Some Dynamics of Anger
  • We become more angry when we are stressed and body resources are down.
  • We are rarely ever angry for the reasons we think.
  • We are often angry when we didn’t get what we needed as a child.
  • We often become angry when we see a trait in others we can’t stand in ourselves.
  • Underneath many current angers are old disappointments, traumas, and triggers.
  • Sometimes we get angry because we were hurt as a child.
  • We get angry when a current event brings up an old unresolved situation from the past.
  • We often feel strong emotion when a situation has a similar content, words or energy that we have felt before.

Source:  helpguide.org

IN Will Focus On Child Abuse, Teen Violence

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Indiana Teen Attempted Suicide Rate Leads the Nation

Child Abuse, Teen Violence higher in Indiana than other states

Children in Indiana are surviving, but they may not be thriving, according to new data released Monday.

The Indiana Youth Institute released their annual KIDS COUNT in Indiana Data Book, which provides information on how Hoosier children are managing.  The numbers show the state’s child abuse and neglect rate has risen steadily since 2011.  In addition, Hoosier teens report higher levels of dating violence than in many other states.

The book provides information on other key areas such as teen suicide, child poverty and education.

Teen Violence

One in ten Indiana high school students have been forced to have sexual intercourse.  In comparison, the national average is 6.7 percent.

The data also shows one out of 10 high school students report they are purposely hurt by their partner, the national average is 9.6 percent.

Sandra Ziebold, CEO and executive director of Beacon of Hope Crisis Center, said there is no clear-cut answer as to why Indiana’s teen violence numbers are so high, but it’s important for teens to know what respect looks like in relationships.

“We have to make sure as a society that we are modeling healthy relationships,” Ziebold said.  “I think many times teens aren’t aware of what a healthy relationship should look like so maybe they start to model all that they’ve witnessed, could be in their homes.”

One of the many possible aspects for the increase in teen suicide rates could be the increase in teen dating violence.

“When a person is violated through teen violence they feel like their value, there is no value to their life,” said Rosalyn Turcott, Hands of Hope Community Education coordinator.  “Because if there was, they would not be treated in such a manner.”

The book shows almost one in 10 high school students attempt to commit suicide, which is above the national average of 8.6 percent.

Child Abuse and Neglect

In 2015, 17 out of every 1,000 Hoosier children were victims of abuse or neglect and that 47.3 percent of all reported cases involved children between the ages of zero to five.

The increase in reports are concerning, but there is also a benefit in the increased numbers of cases, according to Glenn Augustin, vice president of advancement for the Indiana Youth Institute.

“That’s actually a good thing because to ensure children get the intervention they need if they are being abused or neglected, those reports have to come in so the Department of Child Services can investigate them,” Augustin said.  “To see the number of calls going up shows that the word is getting out and adults are taking seriously that responsibility that they have to report cases of abuse and neglect.”

The rise in cases is also attributed to the increase of Hoosiers addicted to drugs like opioids.  Augustin said parents can neglect their children if they are concerned about receiving their drugs.

Child Poverty

Even though Indiana’s economy is improving, one in five Hoosier children are still living in poverty.  More than half of children in single-mother homes and almost a quarter of children in single-father homes face poverty.  Both statistics are above the national average.  Single mothers earn significantly less than what single fathers make and a larger portion of their income goes to child care.

To reduce the number of children effected, Augustin said certain areas need to be tackled.

“Trying to ensure that parents are ready for the responsibilities of raising a child, that they are aware of the resources that are available to them in their community to help them when they maybe are struggling,” Augustin said.  “That they feel empowered or willing to seek out those resources when they need help.” 

TOO MANY CRIES SERIES #5

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Republican State Rep.-elect Stan Lambert

Abilene, Taylor County state reps vow to
address CPS

Abilene, TX  –  Incoming state representatives for Abilene and Taylor County intend to tackle the myriad problems facing Child Protective Services when they take office in January, acknowledging that money is not a panacea.

The Legislative Budget Board’s recent authorization of $150 million in funding for the Department of Family and Protective Services, which oversees CPS, will help curb caseworker turnover by allowing the agency to hire more than 800 caseworkers and pay them more, leading to lighter caseloads for workers and more children getting the help they need, said DFPS Commissioner Henry “Hank” Whitman in an email.

Whitman declined in-person or telephone interviews with the Reporter-News.

But money alone will not “fix” the current system in place to protect the state’s most vulnerable children, said Republican state Rep.-elect Stan Lambert in an email, though he applauded the emergency funding.  Lambert will represent Taylor, Nolan and Jones counties in the Texas House come January.

“It will take all parties coming together in the weeks and months ahead,” Lambert said.  “This recently approved funding will help alleviate some of the backlog and will create more opportunities for cases of child neglect and abuse to move faster and be resolved more expediently.”

Part of that emergency funding request will go toward hiring 105 new foster care caseworkers, some of whom will be assigned to Abilene to meet the high number of children in foster care here, Whitman said.

Foster children have been sleeping in CPS offices, motels and emergency shelters because of a lack of suitable placements for them, he said.  Currently, no children are sleeping in any Region 2 — which encompasses Abilene and Wichita Falls — offices.

“That is just not right,” Whitman said.  “Too many good caseworkers are leaving CPS, and that puts more pressure on the ones left behind.  It also increases pressure on the new hires coming in to perform at a high level immediately, and in many situations that is just not going to happen.”

State Sen.-elect Dawn Buckingham, a Republican elected in November to represent a region that stretches from Abilene to Austin, said she’s familiar with the problems at CPS from her time-serving on the state panel that evaluated its parent agency, DFPS.

“We knew (CPS) was a mess,” said Buckingham, who takes office when the Legislature convenes Jan. 10, pointing out that the Texas Sunset Commission identified gaps in accountability and high staff turnover.

Buckingham said money alone will not fix the agency, but she did agree that a salary increase likely was needed to address turnover and other issues.

“People are applying for those jobs,” she said.  “Unfortunately, they are not staying very long.”

Buckingham said she looks forward to working with Senate leaders and stakeholders as they craft legislation to address the CPS crisis.

The crisis may not be as dire in Region 2 as it is in other parts of the state.

Although the region has had the highest reporting and confirmed victims of abuse rate per 1,000 in the state for the past five years, investigators make face-to-face contact with children at a high rate, Whitman said.

As of Nov. 28, 98 percent of children identified by CPS as at risk for abuse or neglect had been seen by a caseworker, he said.

Additionally, about 80 percent of regional investigations are completed and closed within 60 days.

“Child safety specialists review certain higher-risk investigations as secondary approvers, and since March 2016, Region 2 has had fewer investigations returned by a CSS as compared to the state overall,” Whitman said.  “This indicates thoroughness and effectiveness in Region 2’s investigations.”

Whitman also applauded the region’s close collaboration with the faith-based community — 101 churches and nine ministries are registered for the CarePortal, a website that connects children in need with a church.  Participating churches in Region 2 include Beltway Baptist Church in Abilene and First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls.

But Whitman acknowledged that caseworkers need more investigative training to do their jobs and CPS needs more special investigators to help them, which is part of the emergency funding request.  He said his law enforcement background informed that decision because he is familiar with the “impact crime has on families, particularly children.”

Lambert said that crime is one of the “central causes” of child abuse and neglect that needs to be discussed more, in addition to substance abuse and mental health issues.

“As to future action to be considered, I would support funding to deal with the congestion these types of cases are creating in our family law courts,” he said.  “Increased funding could expedite and shorten the time involved to identify foster care families and allow adoptions to occur.”

Only time will tell if the additional funding approved by the LBB will help or whether the incoming Legislature will take further steps to address the problems facing CPS.

TOO MANY CRIES SERIES #4

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Cyndi Reed is the Foster Care Redesign program administrator for CPS Region 2.

Foster Care Redesign program comes to Abilene, the area

Abilene, TX  –  Major changes to the foster care system in the Abilene-Wichita Falls region are expected to begin in January, when the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services plans to award the contract for its Foster Care Redesign program.

Region 2, which encompasses 30 counties from Brown to Taylor to Wichita County, will be the second area of the state to implement the new method of providing foster care services.

Under the new model, the state contracts with a single provider to serve foster children in geographic areas that have at least 500 new entries into foster care a year, said Cyndi Reed, Foster Care Redesign program administrator for Region 2.  Those areas may include an entire region — there are 11 in the state — or a portion of a region, called a “catchment area.”

“It changes the way we go about procuring for services,” Reed said. “Under the previous model, CPS (Child Protective Services) had what’s called an open enrollment process, where basically we would post a need out and anybody who was able to meet that need could respond.”

Under the old system, CPS contracted with multiple organizations across the state to meet the needs of foster children.  Region 2 has 14 foster care providers, Reed said.

“In the current system, when you open your doors — because there’s such a capacity crisis — you’re just as apt to have kids in your facility in Iraan, Texas, from Lubbock or Longview or Houston, San Antonio or anywhere across the state,” said Michael Redden, CEO of New Horizons.  “Kids are literally being transferred from the community they’re from to wherever the open bed is because it really is a provider-driven system.”

New Horizons, a child-placement and foster care agency that serves a seven-county area, submitted a proposal, Redden said.  New Horizons serves Jones, Coleman, Taylor, Brown, San Saba, Mills and McCulloch counties.

DFPS released the request for proposals in Region 2 on Aug. 1 and closed it Nov. 3.  Reed said the bids are being evaluated right now.

Under the Foster Care Redesign, the agency uses performance-based contracts to ensure the provider is just as invested in helping meet children’s needs, helping them heal and achieving stability as the department is, Reed said.

Performance is based on eight quality indicators:

  • Safety of children in their placements
  • Children placed in their home communities
  • Children served in least-restrictive environment with minimal moves
  • Connections to family maintained
  • Siblings placed together
  • Children’s culture respected in placement
  • Children have access to experiences and activities similar to non-foster children
  • Youths allowed to participate in decisions that impact their lives

“The contract itself restricts kids from outside the region being placed within families in the community,” Redden said.  “Texas specifically designed it such that the community would be involved in creating a plan with agencies that are from that community.”

Initially, the contract for Foster Care Redesign began in August 2013 and covered Region 2 and Region 9, which includes the Midland area, Reed said.  The combined regions incorporated 60 counties and proved too large for the provider, who eventually pulled out.

“We’ve had an increase in the number of children who have come into care in our region,” Reed said.  “Region 2 was able to be selected on its own” for a redesign area.

The next area selected for Foster Care Redesign included seven counties in Region 3, the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Those counties are Tarrant, Palo Pinto, Parker, Johnson, Hood, Somervell and Erath. The state selected ACH Child and Family Services as the provider for that area, called Region 3b, in 2014.

Wayne Carson, chief executive officer of ACH, said that after about two years of implementing the redesign strategies, the area has seen significant strides in meeting the performance criteria.  Few children in care have experienced abuse or neglect, and 83 percent of children placed by the agency were kept within 50 miles of their removal location, compared with 71 percent under the old system.

Additionally, 94 percent of new admissions have been stable in their placements, with no more than one move during the two-year performance window, compared with 88 percent with the old system.

Reed said keeping kids closer to their homes after removal allows them to maintain connections in their communities, such as going to the same church and school.  That way children do not suffer additional trauma by losing their support systems, she said.

“One of the reasons we’ve been able to place kids close to home is because of all the providers that work with us,” Carson said.

Our Community, Our Kids, the division of ACH operating the redesign contract, works with about 35 different providers to coordinate care.

“They share data with us about where their homes are and who has an opening.  We have a lot of really good information because of the partnership we have with the folks in the community,” he said. “When we get a child who is in need of care, we have a database that can tell us what homes are the best match for this child to keep them placed in their home community.”

In the beginning, Palo Pinto County had three foster families, Carson said.  The group managed to build the network by getting the word out that there was a need for more foster homes.  Now, there are 33 families in the county licensed or close to being licensed as foster homes, he said.

“That’s why we called the project ‘Our Community, Our Kids,’ because we really believe that the reason redesign is a better approach is because it allows us to start thinking about these kids as our kids,” Carson said.  “We don’t think about them as the state’s kids.  We don’t think about them as foster care kids.”