Each year, we serve hundreds more people than the year before. During the Campaign for Brighter Futures, we expanded our mission to address all forms intimate partner violence, including domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. We opened five new programs to better serve our community and fill critical gaps, providing a comprehensive response for survivors of all ages—including the Revive Domestic & Sexual Violence Counseling Program—and honing our approach for the increasing number of youth and young adults seeking support through our Pathways for Youth Service Model.
Over the years, Doorways’ as a service provider has been successful because we have listened to our clients and our neighbors, and maintained our commitment to a community where all people live free of violence in safe and stable housing. Whether expanding the definition of who we serve, or developing new programs to better enable our clients to move beyond crisis to long-lasting safety and independence, we do what makes sense and what makes a difference, collaborating with partners who can complement our experience and skills. During the Campaign for Brighter Futures, we opened five new programs to expand our reach and deepen our impact for the community members who need us most.
Comprehensive 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline
Even before headlines and hashtags were urgently calling for preventing violence and responding to survivors of sexual assault, Doorways was expanding to provide a unified, comprehensive response to survivors throughout our programs and our community. For years, survivors searching for support beyond immediate police intervention did not had a clear path. While many agencies in Arlington traditionally offered pieces of the response — emergency medical services, 24-hour hotlines, support groups, counseling, safety planning, legal protections and more — the onus for identifying resources and piecing together a plan for safety and support was on survivors.
In recognition of the need to create a more formal, coordinated response to sexual assault in Arlington, a task force was created with many of the key players, including Doorways, the Arlington County Department of Human Services’ Violence Intervention Program, Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, Arlington’s Victim Witness Department and Arlington Police and Sheriff’s Departments. Following more than a year of extensive research on best practices, the needs of survivors and available expertise and resources, Doorways’ role became clear.
In 2015, Doorways officially expanded our mission to include emergency support and counseling to survivors of sexual assault. Our first step in enhancing our community’s coordinated response to survivors of sexual assault was providing a clear path to accessing help: a single hotline for domestic and sexual violence (703-237-0881). Through this streamlined service, survivors can access confidential counseling and safety planning, accompaniment to emergency medical care, and referrals to other community resources.
Like each pivotal milestone in our history, this growth not only met a profound need in our community, it also enhanced our current response to those we have always served: survivors of domestic violence and homelessness, who often experience sexual violence as well. Doorways’ combined services provide trauma-informed care to survivors with independent and overlapping experiences throughout all of our programs.
As a key part of our mission expansion to serve survivors of sexual violence, Doorways began providing hospital accompaniment after assaults. Accessible through Doorways’ 24-hour hotline, specially trained staff and volunteers are available to accompany survivors to the hospital for emergency medical care. During this very difficult time, we offer support, compassion and guidance, as well as referrals to continued support, including counseling.
Doorways expanded our shelter capacity for survivors of violence through a unique partnership with the affordable housing provider AHC, Inc. This partnership allows Doorways to lease a two-bedroom apartment in one of AHC’s properties to use as emergency, temporary shelter for up to four survivors at a time. This location not only expanded our capacity to serve more people, but also enhanced our ability to serve survivors with special needs.
“The words ‘thank you’ aren’t big. 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.’” —Danielle
Revive Domestic & Sexual Violence Program
For more than 30 years, the Arlington County Department of Human Services operated our community’s domestic and sexual violence counseling services under the Violence Intervention Program. Following ongoing analysis of the needs and resources available to meet these needs, it became clear that the counseling services would be best housed together with Arlington’s 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline, Domestic Violence Safehouse, Court Advocacy and other services offered by Doorways. When Arlington County approached Doorways to discuss our interest and our capacity to take on leadership of the program, we took the proper steps to ensure we could expand our capacity—in terms of space, staff and funding required—to successfully launch and maintain the counseling program. As a result, Doorways started the Revive Domestic & Sexual Violence Counseling Program in 2016.
We partnered closely with Arlington County to transition from VIP to what is now Revive. With funding from Arlington County to support the program, we hired three therapists and secured a space to host the program and serve clients. As we began serving clients in Revive, we quickly learned that there was more need than was anticipated, and as a result, the program would need to grow quickly. We sought and secured additional funding to support this growth. The original team of three soon grew to include a Revive Children’s Counselor and Revive Youth Counselor to serve young survivors as well as children who witnessed abuse, and a Bilingual Victim Advocate. The advocate provides case management and advocacy services to survivors to ensure that clients referred to Revive are linked to local community services to meet their immediate, basic needs such as housing, food and transportation.
Pathways for Youth
In recent years, as the number of calls to our streamlined hotline grew, so did the range of callers—families, women, men and, increasingly, very young households. Arlington is seeing what the rest of the country is seeing—disturbing trends for teens and young adults. Youth are the most at-risk group for first-time sexual and domestic violence, as well as a rapidly growing segment of homeless population: 1 in 3 teens experiences dating violence, and 1 in 10 youth ages 18-24 experiences homelessness every year. By 2017, in our Domestic Violence Safehouse and Freddie Mac Foundation Family Home, these very young households—with and without children, some still in high school, some in violent relationships, and some who simply had no safe place to live—comprised 40% of our clients. At the start of the Campaign for Brighter Futures, we had not anticipated this shift in who we serve; thankfully, with our strong foundation and strategic plan for growth, we were able to adapt and best serve the young people who needed us.
In 2016, Doorways launched a pilot Pathways for Youth program to provide young families who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness with trauma-informed care and developmentally targeted services to address life-skills development and complex trauma needs thanks to a Community Impact Grant from the Arlington Community Foundation. In 2017, Doorways began partnering with A-SPAN to offer Permanent Supportive Housing programming and rental assistance for single youth exiting homelessness.
Today, Doorways’ comprehensive Pathways for Youth Service Model provides youth and young families who are at risk of or are experiencing homelessness with trauma-informed care and developmentally targeted services to address life-skills development and complex trauma needs. We address the needs of transition-aged youth and young families across Doorways’ emergency shelter and housing programs, offering the flexible, non-time limited services critical to supporting young adults to exit homelessness and achieve stability. We provide intensive, developmentally tailored services with an emphasis on building life skills with a hands-on approach. We assist young clients in creating and fulfilling individualized life skills plans geared towards self-sufficiency and reducing barriers to securing and maintaining housing stability. We tailor our services to each individual or family’s needs, including working through challenges that may arise, providing coaching on adult daily living skills, educational and employment skills, and social and wellness support.