April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Doorways for Women and Families is calling on Arlington community members to learn more about the issue and take action to raise awareness this month. Doorways, a nonprofit community service organization that creates pathways out of homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault, provides support and services to individuals and families impacted by these issues as well as community education and advocacy to address their root causes.
During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Doorways is partnering with the U.S. Department of Defense, the Arlington County Police Department, the Metro Transit Police Department, the City of Alexandria’s Sexual Assault Center, PAVE, the Marymount University Counseling Center and more to raise awareness at various events throughout Arlington. On April 6, Doorways encourages community members to participate in Start By Believing Day, which stresses the importance of people’s reactions to friends and family members’ disclosures of assault, by committing to believe survivors when they say they’ve been raped or sexually assaulted. Community members can also demonstrate support for survivors by wearing teal for Teal Out on April 20. Additional information about these and more ways to make an impact are available at www.DoorwaysVA.org/SAAM.
Raising awareness that interpersonal violence impacts people in Arlington is an important part of addressing these issues. “It can be difficult to grasp the scope of the problem in our community because these issues are often hidden” said Doorways President and CEO Caroline Jones. Last year alone, Doorways responded to 1,244 callers through their 24-hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline—a 53 percent increase over calls received the previous year—impacting 2,012 adults and children. “Thankfully, more and more people are becoming aware of the hotline and are feeling empowered to reach out to us to access the resources they need,” said Jones.
Through the hotline, Doorways offers free and confidential crisis support, information and referrals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, survivors of sexual assault can access Doorways’ trained staff and volunteers to accompany them to area hospitals for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (S.A.N.E.) exams. This accompaniment support is offered in partnership with Arlington County’s Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. Hotline support is available to all survivors, regardless of their choice to pursue medical attention and/or legal action. For those in need of safe shelter to escape interpersonal violence, Doorways’ Domestic Violence Safehouse can also be accessed through the hotline.
By coming together during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we can help one another better understand the realities of sexual assault, survivors’ varied needs and so critically learn together how best to prevent and respond to sexual violence as a community.
“We are so grateful to our community partners who are supporting Doorways’ safe, immediate response to survivors and helping to educate our community,” said Jones. “By coming together during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we can help one another better understand the realities of sexual assault, survivors’ varied needs and so critically learn together how best to prevent and respond to sexual violence as a community.”
To learn more about how Doorways creates pathways leading to safe, stable and empowered lives, and to join the cause, visit www.DoorwaysVA.org. If you or someone you know needs support, please call Doorways’ 24-hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline at (703) 237-0881.