“I Asked Him for My Clothes and My Phone”

The following are excerpts from Arlington Magazine. Read the entire piece here. Photo by Dixie Vereen.

“Doorways didn’t try to pathologize me. They saw and treated me as a human being who had experienced complex trauma. I was in a safe place knowing that I could finally tell the truth—all the truth—and not have it define the way I was treated or looked at. I can’t go back and change what’s happened to me, but I can choose to move forward with hope.”

Each survivor is paired with a personal advocate who can guide her or him through the entire medical examination—which is often an intensely emotional ordeal lasting several hours. Advocates are specially trained and provided for free by Doorways for Women and Families, an Arlington-based nonprofit that offers a safe haven and support system for people in crisis.

In 2015, Doorways became Arlington County’s consolidated resource for victims of sexual assault and their families, regardless of the victim’s age, gender or where the assault occurred. In each case, the nonprofit’s Revive program helps create a holistic plan that considers the victim’s personal safety, legal options, mental health counseling and financial support, if needed. These services are provided even if the person chooses not to take legal action.

Last year, Doorways helped more than 60 individuals through their hospital accompaniments. That’s up from 30 in 2017, and almost eight times the number of victims the nonprofit was able to help during its first official year in this role, says Doorways president and CEO Caroline Jones.

Some may be tempted to attribute the increase to an overall rise in sexual assaults, but police and hospital personnel say it’s more likely the result of coordinated efforts to reach victims—as well as greater awareness of what constitutes sexual assault and how to report it.

Since 2015, Doorways’ Revive program has provided short-term post-trauma sexual assault counseling for more than 400 individuals between the ages of 2 and 82.

It happens here. Sexual assault may not be talked about at soccer games and cocktail parties, but it is more prevalent than we think. Continue reading.

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