Category Archives: Education

From Promise to Practice: Aligning Housing and Services to Support Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

by Caroline Jones, MSW, Doorways for Women and Families President and CEO

Historically, approaches to ending homelessness and those for ending IPV have operated, at best, in parallel. Despite evidence that domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness among women, youth, and families and that abuse and its impacts continue long after survivors leave relationships, very few survivor-centered housing options exist. But this is beginning to change. Ending homelessness for families and youth is now a national priority. In response to this shift, several IPV providers have developed promising models for safely and stably housing survivors while ensuring survivors have the support and empowerment necessary to move forward after abuse. Continue reading on How Housing Matters.

Download our latest newsletter and annual report

Thanks to our partner Deliver Strategies, a Doorways Corporate Ambassador, for producing this beautiful newsletter and report at no cost to Doorways. We appreciate your support!

In this newsletter, you’ll learn about:

  • The final stretch of the Campaign for Brighter Futures
  • 10 ways your child can get involved in the cause
  • Revive, our latest response to violence in our community
  • How to help a friend who has experienced sexual assault
  • And more, including partner spotlights and our latest annual report

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Local Bars and Restaurants Raise Awareness of Sexual Assault

Businesses Call on Community to Create Change and Support Survivors

Arlington, VA – April 25, 2018 – For 40 years, Doorways has provided survivors in our community with immediate safety, comprehensive support and therapeutic services that ultimately lead to brighter futures. But they have not done it alone, nor can the organization continue to meet the growing need without the support of the Arlington community. There is a role for all of us in this response, Doorways says, including bars and restaurants.

April Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and several local businesses are partnering with Doorways to raise awareness of the resources available for survivors. This weekend, these bars and restaurants will provide customers with coasters that feature Doorways’ 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (703-237-0881) and the message, “Sexual assault impacts everyone.” Participating businesses include The Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall, Northside Social, Liberty Barbeque, O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub, and Freddie’s Beach Bar.

“It’s important to raise the awareness that sexual violence happens in our community, that we have a local response through Doorways, and that all of us have a role in supporting survivors,” said Stephen Fedorchak, owner of The Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall, Northside Social, and Liberty Barbeque. “This is beyond #MeToo or #TimesUp—survivors have stepped forward, and now it’s up to us to respond. We have to make a shift and create lasting change in our culture. That change starts with us. It happens here.”

This is beyond #MeToo or #TimesUp—survivors have stepped forward, and now it’s up to us to respond.

According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, someone experiences sexual assault every 98 seconds. In 2015, Doorways responded to an average of 3 survivor calls per day to their hotline; today, the organization receives 6 calls per day. Now in its second year of operating, Doorways’ Revive Domestic & Sexual Violence Program— which offers trauma-informed short-term counseling tailored to the needs of survivors seeking services due to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and/or stalking—will serve approximately 400 Arlington women, men, youth and children. While these statistics point to an increased willingness to share experiences and seek help, the stories behind the numbers point to an alarming rise in the rate of incidents in Arlington, affecting every demographic.

As Arlington County’s only comprehensive domestic and sexual violence program, in addition to the hotline and Revive, Doorways offers hospital accompaniment provided by a highly trained advocate for survivors who choose to seek medical attention; a bilingual (Spanish and English) Court Advocacy Program; and a Domestic Violence Safehouse.

While bars and restaurants are at the heart of this campaign, Doorways explains that the connection between sexual assault and alcohol is still widely misunderstood. “While perpetrators may use alcohol as a tool to incapacitate their victims, the only person to blame for assault is the one committing the violence. Someone who’s intoxicated cannot consent to sexual activity,” said Christa Carlton, director of Doorways’ Domestic & Sexual Violence Programs. “Sexual violence is never the victim’s fault. It’s on us to believe and support survivors, and never to blame them for what they’ve experienced.”

Sexual violence is never the victim’s fault. It’s on us to believe and support survivors.

As Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month comes to a close, Doorways remains available to survivors, their friends and family and our community all year round. Free and confidential crisis support, information and referrals are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Doorways’ hotline at 703-237-0881. Anyone needing support is encouraged to call Doorways to talk about their situation or that of a loved one.

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 www.DoorwaysVA.org. 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.

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.

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.