All posts by Linley Beckbridge

Doorways Advocate Speaks to Senate Subcommittee about Domestic Violence and the Military

C-SPAN / March 8, 2018 / “The Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel held a hearing to discuss domestic violence and child abuse in military families. A panel of abuse survivors and an advocate testified about their legal, health care, and treatment experiences with the military, and made recommendations for what could be improved in order to better help survivors and prevent potential abuses. Also, a panel of clinical professionals and a Defense Department official discussed the issues from their perspectives. They also made recommendations as to where and by whom efforts could be made to address existing challenges and prevent future violence, abuse, and neglect.”

Iris Vega, an advocate with Doorways for Women and Families, spoke about the experiences of three survivors and made recommendations for improving our response to their needs. See her remarks just past the one-hour mark:

“Moments are temporary; movements lead to real change.”

Originally published in the Sun Gazette
Caroline Jones, President and CEO, Doorways for Women and Families
Joanne Petty, Board President, Doorways for Women and Families

It seems each day brings a new headline about sexual assault and harassment. The revelation that nearly every industry in America is impacted is both shocking and appalling to the public, yet all too familiar to those working to end the cycles of violence and abuse in our community. The bravery of women and men speaking up about their experiences and bringing a renewed sense of empowerment for survivors is laudable. To many, it feels like something is shifting; daresay, progress in combating sexual assault and domestic violence is moving us toward a society where harassment and assault are never acceptable. These past few months have become, to many, a watershed moment. Yet to truly solve these problems, this has to be more than a moment. Moments are temporary; movements lead to real change.

While we continue the conversation on the national stage, we must remember that the real, on-the-ground advocacy must be rooted in our own community. In recent months, Arlington has experienced a 15% increase in calls to Doorways Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline. Last month alone, Doorways saw a 25% increase in requests for counseling through the new Revive Domestic & Sexual Violence Counseling Program. Now in its second year of operating, the Revive Program is on track to serve far more than the 376 Arlington women, men, youth and children that came forward last year to seek help. While these statistics point to an increased willingness to share experiences and seek help, we know the stories behind the numbers point to an alarming rise in the rate of incidents in Arlington, affecting every demographic.

As headlines fade, we as a community must be purposeful in our work and remain committed to supporting survivors, and whenever possible, preventing sexual assault and domestic violence from occurring in the first place. While systems level change will take time and continued advocacy, there are many ways we can support our neighbors who are experiencing interpersonal violence today and empower them to heal. For almost 40 years, Doorways has provided survivors in our community with immediate safety, comprehensive support and therapeutic services that ultimately lead to brighter futures. But we have not done it alone, nor can we continue to meet the growing need without the support of the Arlington community.

There is a role for all of us in this response. Together, we can educate young people and the community about healthy relationships and the resources available to survivors. If you know someone who is in need of support, please share our 24-hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline at 703-237-0881. Reassure your friend, family member or coworker that they are not alone, and let them know that there is help and support available.

If you are interested in learning about further ways to support survivors in our community, please visit And let’s all continue to raise awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence so that everyone in our community can feel, and be, safe.

Change is in your hands during #teenDVmonth

Did you know that one in three teens in the United States experiences dating violence, which includes physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse? Most of us aren’t aware of how common abuse is among youth, and many youth who experiencing dating violence aren’t aware of the resources available to them. These forms of abuse affect everyone: survivors, parents, family members and friends. Help is available for everyone. Read more on the Catalogue for Philanthropy blog.

123YouthCount: Sidney’s Story

Sidney came to Doorways after far too many tragedies touched her young life. For years, she watched her mother struggle with multiple sclerosis, ultimately losing her life to the disease when Sidney was only 15. Sidney’s father, who had spent decades in and out of homelessness, tried his best to be there for her, but his chronic instability meant that he could not provide Sidney with a safe home or the care she needed. For a short time, Sidney found a home with her grandmother, grandfather and cousins. But that too fell apart after Sidney was abused in the home. That was when Sidney’s high school guidance counselor told her about Doorways and everything changed. Read more on Arlington County’s website.

Doorways and partners featured in DC Metro Real Producers

The DC Metro Real Producers January edition features Doorways partners Keri Shull of the Keri Shull Team and Michelle Sagatov of The Michelle Sagatov Group. Sagatov “has a long history with Doorways for Women and Families that started well before her career in real estate. Doorways for Women and Families has provided pathways out of violence and homelessness for women, children, and men since 1978. In 2013, Michelle and her husband Yuri Sagatov raised over $300,000 to completely renovate Doorways’ safehouse. They were also able to get a group of local interior designers to help create a beautiful, restorative, and respectful interior for Doorways’ clients during their healing journey. They’ve been involved and giving ever since!”

Facing the Facts: Trauma-Informed Practices in Homeless Intervention Services

Homelessness involves the loss of home, community, stability, safety, and social networks.  On top of the ongoing stressors associated with homelessness, an overwhelming percentage of homeless individuals and families have experienced additional forms of trauma including physical and sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence, community violence, and family disruptions. For the purpose of this brief, homelessness or homeless refers to the definition set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which considers an individual homeless if he or she lives in an emergency shelter, transitional housing program, or a place not meant for human habitation, such as a car, abandoned building, or on the streets.

In recent years, homeless service settings have increased their understanding and response to the complexities of trauma; however there are still opportunities for improvement. Trauma-informed care in homeless service settings recognizes and responds to clients’ previous trauma, approaches clients through a strengths-based lens, and provides clients with safety, respect, and choice.

This issue brief examines connections between homelessness and trauma, overviews a trauma-informed care framework in homeless services, and exemplifies trauma-informed approaches within homeless service organizations in Virginia. Information is provided to help homeless service providers and organizations approach their clients, agency, and staff with a trauma-informed lens. See brief.

Doorways profiled in Arlington Magazine Test of Time

The following is an excerpt of Doorways for Women and Families’ profile in the November/December 2017 issue of Arlington Magazine Test of Time section.

“Last year, Doorways served more than 3,500 people. This year, our 40th, we expect to serve even more. The role of community support has never been more important to our success.”

“Can you imagine having to sleep in a car with your children? Or being financially dependent on an abusive partner who isolates you and controls your every move?” asks Caroline Jones. “We hear these stories every day.”

Doorways interrupts cycles of abuse and homelessness and sets people on pathways to long-term safety and stability. In addition to operating two emergency shelters, Doorways provides supportive housing and comprehensive services to help clients reach stability. Continue reading.

Hear from Our Clients

For many of us, the word “home” conjures images of warmth, happiness and a sense of belonging. But what if the only place you have to call home was where someone was causing you (and your children) harm? What if home doesn’t exist at all, and the only way to stay off the street is to sleep in a car or hotel or ask friend after friend for a couch to crash on? These situations affect more people than you might imagine, including women, men, youth, children and families. Here are a few of stories from community members like you who’ve come through our many doorways seeking safety, stability, hope and, ultimately, a home.

What Is a Domestic Violence and Abuse Shelter and How Do I Find One?

Written by Lisa Esposito, Staff Writer, U.S. News

Somewhere in Arlington County, Virginia, there’s a safe house for members of households affected by domestic violence. Eleven beds await spouses or partners, children or other family members at risk. In back is a kennel for pets of fleeing families.

“Our shelter is for folks who are fleeing imminent danger,” says Christa Carlton, director of domestic and sexual violence programs with Doorways for Women and Families, a nonprofit community service group. “The abuse has escalated to a point where we’re concerned someone is going to end up in the hospital.”

Two safe apartments in other locations provide shelter alternatives when the main house is fully occupied, the abuser lives too close or for individual family reasons. “They’re totally confidential locations,” Carlton says. “We’re not permitted to share them with anyone, not even law enforcement.”

When people reach out to the program, the staff carefully evaluates their level of danger from violent partners, taking known risk factors – including threats of homicide or suicide, access to weapons and strangulation incidents – into account.

“Abuse escalates during pregnancy, so is there a pregnant person in the home?” Carlton says. “Has any of the abuse extended to a pet or to a child? Is there escalating violence? Is the person abusive in a public setting?” Stalking, extreme jealousy and substance abuse with unpredictable behavior also indicate potential for danger.

Meticulous planning throughout is essential for a safe transition. Household members at risk often flee to a local family or friend first. However, they can’t stay there more than a day or two because the abuser will likely find them. “So then they call us from that location,” Carlton says. “And we make a plan for them to come into our shelter.” Continue reading.