All posts by Linley Beckbridge

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.

Expanded Services Prove Pivotal to Arlington’s Response to Abuse and Homelessness

Content warning: This post includes vivid descriptions of physical abuse.

Doorways for Women and Families Meets Growing, Increasingly Complex Needs

“My son was diagnosed with special needs,” shared Danielle, an Arlington mom of two who is also raising her nephew, at Doorways’ Campaign for Brighter Futures Breakfast. “There was a moment when I was restraining my son, who was having a meltdown. My son actually…leaned forward to try and bite my ex-husband, and so my ex-husband punched him in the face in retaliation. And that was it. That was the moment for me that I was like, ‘I won’t live with this. My son shouldn’t have to live with this.’ He didn’t deserve that.”

“That was the moment for me.”

Danielle, a Doorways graduate, is one of several clients who shared their story at the Campaign for Brighter Futures Breakfast. Hundreds of community members listened as Doorways’ clients and leadership described the challenges facing neighbors like Danielle; how Doorways is responding to their needs through the Campaign for Brighter Futures; and how the community’s support is making a transformative impact.

Danielle came to Doorways with her children to escape from her abusive ex-husband. Beyond basic safety and shelter, she found special accommodations for her son who has autism, dedicated children’s services to help all of her children heal from the abuse they had experienced and witnessed, and support services to help her gain confidence and learn how to maintain her budget and provide for her family on her own. She is now living in her own apartment through Doorways’ HomeStart Supportive Housing Program, empowered and safe.

Michelle Sagatov

“While difficult to believe, there are thousands of women, men and children right here in our prosperous community who, to achieve a brighter future, need a safe place to call home and the help of committed and compassionate professionals,” said Michelle Sagatov of the Michelle Sagatov Group, co-chair for the Campaign for Brighter Futures. “The challenges they face don’t always get the most attention, and often times, their voices are not heard. But these challenges, while profound and complex, can be overcome.”

Sagatov expressed Doorways’ deep gratitude for the supporters who gave a total of $6.5 million during the first two years of the Campaign for Brighter Futures, and called on the community to keep up this momentum. “Our work is not over. In this, our final year of the campaign, we must raise an additional $3.5 million in private support in order to ensure that our vital response continues for those in crisis as long as there is a need,” said Sagatov. “Our collective will to turn tragedy into triumph, and despair into hope, will directly fill the gaps we currently face as well as ensure no call for help goes unanswered.”

This past year, Doorways helped more than 3,600 people—almost double the total people the organization served just 3 years ago. In recent years, Doorways has received nearly 1,500 calls per year to its 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (703-237-0881), an increase of more than 60 percent compared to 3 years ago.

Caroline Jones

“I know these numbers are shocking and not what we expect to hear, especially in a place like Arlington, where so many do so well. Yet, behind these rising numbers, there is positive change happening. By empowering people to know they are in danger, they are empowered to seek the right help. This is positive change,” said Doorways’ President and CEO, Caroline Jones. “I have never felt more proud to live in Arlington—a community with such determined compassion and will to look out for our neighbors,” said Jones. “This is absolutely our community to shape, and your support empowers us to reach our neighbors—to be inventive and bold when we see a need emerging or going unmet.”

Through the Campaign for Brighter Futures, Doorways is addressing this increasing demand for safety, the growing complexity of the needs of survivors and families seeking self-sufficiency, and the uncertain, restrictive funding climate that threatens the nonprofit’s ability to deliver lasting change in clients’ well-being. With funds given to the campaign, Doorways is maintaining their current and newer services that bring people to safety and meeting the long-term, more complex needs of their clients, especially the increasing number of youth and teens seeking help. Doorways is also working to ensure that its many doors will always remain open to all those who need their help tomorrow and in the months and years to come.

“Each part of our mission—from our hotline to our shelters to our services—is essential to the safety, healing and ultimate stability of the women, men and children we serve, especially the increasing number of youth and young families that need housing and support,” said Diana Ortiz, Doorways’ Client Services Director. “We are getting more and more calls for help, and we are able to answer with new and strengthened services. When people are unsafe or in crisis, we cannot tell them to wait. Our programs are transforming lives; we cannot afford to cut their funding. This campaign—our donors, our partners—are making it possible for us to meet our community’s needs in innovative and impactful ways.”

“Each part of our mission—from our hotline to our shelters to our services—is essential.”

“The words ‘thank you’ aren’t big,” Danielle said. “It’s like they don’t mean enough to express how grateful I am for everything that Doorways has done for me and my family, and given me… I think what I’m going to take from this is, it’s so much bigger than just ‘thanks.’”

To join Doorways in creating pathways out of homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault leading to safe, stable and empowered lives, visit www.DoorwaysVA.org/join-our-cause.

The Brighter Futures Breakfast was made possible by the following generous sponsors: Brighter Futures Sponsors – The Keri Shull Team and Orange Line Living; Ensuring Safety Sponsor – AvalonBay Communities; Economic Independence Sponsors – Clark Construction and the Shooshan Company; Strengthening Long-Term Stability Sponsor – The Michele Sagatov Group with Washington Fine Properties; Future Response Sponsors – Crystal City BID, FVC Bank, McGuire Woods, and Walsh Colucci Lubeley & Walsh PC; Community Partner Sponsor – John Marshall Bank; Media Sponsors – Arlington Magazine and Tania Hossain Photography; and Printing and Graphics Sponsor – Image 360 (formerly Signs By Tomorrow).

For Doorways, greater safety-net needs lead to innovative techniques

By Scott McCaffrey

As it moves forward in a three-year, $10 million fund-raising drive, one Arlington-based social-safety-net provider says community support is needed now more than ever.

Michelle Sagatov

“This is not a time to roll back the progress we have made. Our work is not over,” said Michelle Sagatov, speaking at an Oct. 13 breakfast sponsored by Doorways for Women and Families.

The “Brighter Futures” breakfast, now in its eighth year, is designed both to introduce the community to Doorways’ work, and encourage them to become boosters of the organization. It takes place annually in October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

A record 450 people were on hand for the 2016 event, held this year at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City.

Sagatov is a co-chair of Doorways’ Campaign for Brighter Futures, which over the past year has raised $6.5 million toward its $10 million goal.

“Every single dollar will fill a vital need” in support of Doorways’ work against domestic and sexual abuse, she said.

Among those who can attest to the important of support is Danielle, a Doorways client who left an abusive marriage with several children in tow.

With Doorways’ help, “I’ve found my voice,” Danielle said. Continue reading at InsideNOVA.

Arlington County police cruisers display purple ribbons during Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Originally posted by the Arlington County Police Department in the Arlington County Newsroom

October marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Arlington County Police Department has partnered with Doorways for Women and Families, our community advocate, to bring attention to this worthy cause.

During the month of October a purple ribbon, donated by Doorways, will be displayed on many Arlington County Police Department vehicles in support of the efforts to reduce the incidence and severity of domestic violence in our community. “The purple ribbon is an outward expression of our commitment to investigating incidents of domestic violence in our community and assisting those who may be experiencing domestic violence. Eliminating domestic violence requires collaborative prevention and response efforts and the Police Department believes the partnership with Doorways is a step in that direction,” comments M. Jay Farr, Chief of Police.

In 2016, officers with the Arlington County Police Department made 231 arrests for domestic assault. According to Doorways’ for Women and Families, last year the 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (703-237-0881) responded to 1,471 calls, impacting 2,534 adults and children, a 13 percent increase over the previous year. Their new Revive Domestic & Sexual Violence Program served 373 adults, teens and children, and Doorways’ specially trained advocates offered hospital accompaniment to 30 survivors of sexual assault to pursue a forensic exam.

“Two years ago, we expanded our hotline, making access to safety and services more comprehensive,” says Caroline Jones, Doorways President and CEO. “In the first year, calls increased by 53 percent, and they have continued to increase by about 10 percent each year.  We are glad so many people are getting through to get help.”

Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in 1981. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and children. The Day of Unity soon became an entire week devoted to a range of activities conducted at the local, state and national level. The activities conducted had three common themes that remain a key focus to this day: mourning those that have died because of domestic violence; celebrating those who have survived; and connecting those who have worked to end violence.

In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed, and in 1989, the United States Congress passed Public Law 101-112 designating October as the official month.

Get Involved During DVAM 2017

In addition to the Arlington County Police Department, Doorways will also be collaborating with Arlington County Public Schools, Arlington Young Professionals, Phoenix House, Georgetown SigEp, Allstate, PAVE and other partners during DVAM 2017. Learn more about our DVAM events and activities.

If you’re interested in having Doorways participate in your event, please contact Linley Beckbridge, Communications and Outreach Manager, at 703-504-9283 or LBeckbridge@DoorwaysVA.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

Home Is Where The Art Is

Allison Stocks
Arlington teenager Allison Stocks started Home is Where the Art Is, a program in which artists donate their work for formerly homeless people to decorate their new homes. (Photo: Reza Marvashiti)

Meet the Arlington teenager who is helping turn formerly homeless people into patrons of art

By Tara Bahrampour for The Washington Post

When Allison Stocks was 13 and stuck at home during a 12-day run of snow days, she read a newspaper story about a homeless family moving into permanent housing. An accompanying photograph showed the family in an apartment with bare walls. To her, it didn’t look homey.

“The place looked kind of uninviting,” she recalled. “I realized that although there weren’t a lot of things I was capable of doing to help families like this one, I could help make their apartments more inviting.”

Allison, who is now a 15-year-old sophomore at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Va., started talking to artists and homeless shelters and in February 2016 she founded a nonprofit, Home Is Where The Art Is, to start connecting them. The organization has procured donations of hundreds of pieces of art, frames, and mattes, and has provided original artwork to over 50 people in the Washington area – plus one in North Carolina – who are making the transition from homeless shelters into permanent housing.

Continue reading

Home Is Where The Art Is provides framed original artwork at no charge to people transitioning from homelessness or a shelter into their new homes.

Doorways for Women and Families stopping domestic violence with new campaign

Raising critical awareness through #knowthe5

Doorways for Women and Families “is looking to spread awareness in the community with their new campaign,” WDVM reported. “You can join the social media movement by posting a picture of yourself holding up five fingers, showing five must know facts.” See the broadcast recording. Visit www.DoorwaysVA.org/knowthe5 to learn more and join the movement.

Correction: The original WDVM broadcast stated that Doorways served nearly 35 million last year alone. Doorways actually served nearly 3,500 people last year.

10 Ways You Can Support Someone Who’s Experiencing Abuse

As a friend, family member or co-worker of someone in an unhealthy or violent relationship, you may be the first person to recognize your loved one is not safe. In all likelihood, you know someone who is currently experiencing abuse or has in the past; 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience intimate partner violence in their lifetimes.

Get tips

Free and confidential crisis support, information and referrals are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through our 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline at 703-237-0881. Whether you need emergency shelter, hospital accompaniment, in-person individual or group counseling, court advocacy or a listening ear and helping hand, give us a call to discuss your situation or that of a loved one.