What It Takes Blog Series #4: Domestic Violence in the Digital Era

Note: This is the fourth post in DASH’s ongoing What It Takes blog series, which examines and explains the various factors that make getting safe from abuse so difficult. Each post explores factors that survivors have to navigate on their journey to finding safety. Learn more about the campaign at the What It Takes page, and please spread the word: #WhatItTakesDC. 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that “digital domestic abuse” is on the rise, “more girls are reporting that their boyfriends stalk them via text message or threaten to humiliate them with social media. What starts in cyberspace rarely ends there,” writes the Daily Beast.

What is Digital Domestic Violence?

Digital domestic violence is the act of harassing or stalking a former or current partner through technology and social media. Abusers are increasingly using Bluetooth, spyware and popular location check in apps like squarespace to track their partner’s location. It’s alarming that abusers can remotely install these tracking applications on their partner’s phones without the survivor ever knowing. “When your abuser is tracking your phone, it means he knows when you seek shelter and help, even the route you take to work and can access  your text messages to friends and family. It’s a way for him to maintain power and control with threats to ensure that you don’t leave him,” cautions a DASH advocate.

She eventually realized that her abuser was tracking her location via the Bluetooth on her phone.

One DASH client reported that her ex-husband went as far as installing tracking devices on her two cars after the divorce. She was forced to leave her cars in different states in order to throw him off and protect her safety.  Another survivor reported that her abuser kept appearing at the grocery store when she was there shopping. She started going to grocery stores across town at weird hours of the day but he would always show up. She eventually realized that her abuser was tracking her location via the Bluetooth on her phone.

Harassment is the other common form of digital abuse. Abusers intimidate and harass their partners by posting or threatening to post incriminating photos and statuses or sensitive information about their partners. Photos that were once private between two people in a relationship suddenly become public for all to see – and often the survivor gets unfairly blamed. Abusers also send threatening messages and texts to their abusers, forcing them to live in fear.

It can be really traumatizing for survivors trying to find safety because you don’t know what they are capable of or when it’s going to stop.

A DASH advocate says this is not uncommon, “Clients come in all the time with stories about what their abusers are doing online, sending messages, posting nude photos and constantly taunting them. It can be really traumatizing for survivors trying to find safety because you don’t know what they are capable of or when it’s going to stop.” One DASH client reported that her abuser was creating fake Facebook profiles under her name and then adding all of her friends and family. He would then use the profile to taunt her. He posted explicit photos of her, wrote false statuses about her parenting skills and tagged her family members. When she would report the page and have it taken down, he would create another page. It’s proven difficult to combat digital abuse because it so often happens anonymously, states a DASH advocate.

Isolation or Safety?

Because of this, survivors of domestic violence are limited with few options and often have to isolate themselves from their friends and family by changing their phone number and email address and deleting their social media accounts.  Otherwise, they risk continued harassment and stalking from their abusers. For survivors who want to maintain contact with friends and family but also to stay safe from abuse, it can be difficult to know what to do.

It’s suggested that survivors use aliases instead of real names online, but even that isn’t foolproof. “Depending on your Facebook friends or your profile picture, even if your Facebook is private or under a different name, they can still track you down,” says the DASH Housing Clinic advocate.

What can survivors do? Don’t take risks, get a new phone, and delete your profiles. This can be really isolating, however, for survivors who want to continue having  contact with their support network of friends and family. For survivors who decide to maintain an online presence it’s important to change all passwords and be extremely conscious of the photos that are being posted. Even something small like a piece of furniture, a street sign or a car interior can be used by abusers to stalk and harass. As part of a survivor’s safety plan, consider using a computer or device outside of the home such as at a library or at the home of a family member or friend where the abuser would not have access.

Take Action:

You can learn more about what it takes for survivors to get safe at WhatItTakes.org or donate to DASH to support access to safe housing for survivors here.


Domestic Violence Matters: Six of the Most Powerful Domestic Violence Viral Ads

And how domestic violence campaigners are leveraging new media to change the conversation

Note: This is a guest post by Ad 2 DC, it’s the second post in a new blog series by DASH called ‘Domestic Violence Matters’, which discusses current events and media coverage of domestic violence. We believe that empowering, provocative, and original media and storytelling must play a critical role in helping to overcome domestic violence in our society.

Chris Brown hitting Rihanna. Ray Rice’s infamous striking of his partner Janae, and the ensuing NFL cover-up controversy. In recent times, high-profile cases of domestic violence are dominating news headlines and generating passionate discussions on- and offline.

But does all of this media coverage actually help the cause of those seeking to end domestic violence? Is it helping us to get at the root causes of the problem, to educate the general population and acquire resources for our programs and services? Does the buzz and clickbait actually educate or drive for positive change? Unfortunately, we believe the answer is no, at least without more context and advocacy.

Luckily, advocates against domestic violence are creating innovative, compelling media that leverage current headlines and memes to further the domestic violence conversation in meaningful ways. As you check out DASH’s picks for the most powerful campaigns below, notice that they share some common best practices:

  • Shock and surprise: The best domestic violence PSAs tend not to go the obvious route, choosing instead to lure in their audience by using a hook with mass appeal, such as a viral meme. This increases just how powerful and memorable the actual message is when revealed.
  • Subtlety and understatement: Sometimes the loudest message can be communicated in a quiet way. Using silence or suspended interest leads, some of the best domestic violence PSAs leave the audience to fill in the gaps, encouraging them to be similarly proactive when applying the message to their own lives and societies.
  • Innovative use of technology: While we might expect big name brands to wow us with new, tech-savvy advertising, certain social cause marketers have also shown their ability to utilize technology (facial recognition software, text donating) to get their message and calls to action to stand out. The British “Look At Me” campaign (number 3 below) is a prime example of a domestic violence organization whose campaign is at the cutting edge of advertising technology.

Below we highlight six of the most powerful and far reaching domestic violence viral ads of recent times, which we hope will continue to inspire and raise awareness about the pervasive issue of domestic violence.

1.  “Black and Blue” Salvation Army dress meme (Salvation Army, South Africa)

Dress meme_salvation army (1)

The South African branch of the Salvation Army ingeniously leveraged the “What color is this dress?” meme to direct attention towards domestic violence survivors with this somber message. Using clever, concise copy (“Why is it so hard to see black and blue?”) and powerful imagery, the ad rapidly leveraged a broad-based meme and directed attention to the #StopAbuseAgainstWomen campaign.

Released on Twitter, the tweet drew over 17,000 retweets and worldwide coverage (HuffPo link) well beyond South Africa.

2.“Slap Her” video (Fanpage.it, Italy)

Released in January, this uplifting three minute video features several young Italian boys being asked to slap a girl. Each of them refuse, providing reasons such as “because I’m against violence,” and “because I’m a man.” The video–which combines sweetness and sentimentality–effectively contrasts the basic character of these boys against domestic violence in adult society. It ends with a powerful quote from a 6-year old: “In the kids’ world, women don’t get hit.”

As the Huffington Post noted, the video’s message is particularly important in Italy, “where the United Nations has reported domestic abuse is “the most pervasive form of violence,” and almost 32 percent of women between the ages of 16 and 70 experience some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes.”

Produced by Italian video journalist Luva Lavarone for the news company fanpage.it, the video has been viewed more than 27 million times, garnering media coverage and discussion, as well as a response video from India that asks girls to slap a boy, demonstrating that domestic violence is not acceptable, regardless of gender.

3. “Look At Me” (Women’s Aid, United Kingdom)

womens-aid-billboard-hed-2015

Launched for International Women’s Day (March 8), this interactive billboard featuring a battered woman changes when bystanders look at the image, using facial recognition technology. As more people who look at the image, the woman’s injuries heal more rapidly, sending a powerful and technologically visceral message of the benefits of not ignoring domestic violence.

Women’s Aid from Ocean Outdoor on Vimeo.

In addition, the bottom of the billboard features a live stream of the crowd. Bystanders who look towards the ad will see their faces picked out of the crowd, further compelling audience engagement. Finally, using location marketing software, passersby automatically receive text messages that enable them to donate directly to Women’s Aid, a British domestic violence charity.

4. “One Photo a Day in the Worst Year Of My Life” (B92, Serbia)

Created by the B92 Fund, a Serbian radio and TV broadcaster, this shocking video leveraged the “One photo a day” trend, featuring a young woman who begins the year healthy and happy, before descending rapidly into increasingly severe states of abuse. The video ends with the woman holding up a sign stating: “Help me, I don’t know if I will survive until tomorrow,” highlighting the speed with which previously healthy relationships can turn abusive.

It was launched in response to alarming domestic violence statistics in Serbia, where 11 women and two children were killed in domestic violence incidents in the first two months of 2013. Launched in March 2013, the video has been viewed over 42 million times, after initially gaining global traction via reddit.

5. “Woman’s Reaction to England World Cup Knockout” (Tender Education and Arts, UK)


This subtle, surprising advertisement was released during the Football World Cup in June 2014. Featuring a woman nervously cheering England on, it lures audiences in by looking much like other World Cup-related advertisements. However, her expression changes after the team loses and it ends in silence with a powerful statistic: “Domestic violence rises 38% when England gets knocked out of the World Cup.” The ad’s timing in the lead-up to England’s elimination effectively pre-empted the specific factors that may trigger domestic violence incidents.

Released by Tender, a British charity that uses theater and the arts to engage young people in violence prevention, the video has been viewed more than 900,000 times on YouTube.

6. “No More” Superbowl Ad” (NFL, United States)

Following a number of high profile incidents, and widespread criticism for its longstanding neglect of domestic violence cases involving its players, the NFL responded with a PSA campaign featuring “No More.” During the Superbowl, it released this chilling PSA featuring an actual phone call in which a domestic violence survivor disguises her 911 call for help by pretending to order a pizza.

The call was based on an actual 911 dispatcher’s reddit post, and brings to light the difficulty domestic violence victims often face in asking for help. The ad has been viewed more than 7 million times on YouTube.

The “No More” campaign also launched another stark, powerful PSA featuring celebrity NFL players calling for an end to common phrases used to ignore or justify domestic violence:

Which of these campaigns did you find most powerful? Which message did you think was most relevant to its audience? Please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts!


What It Takes Blog Series #3: My Journey to Hope, Love and Freedom

Note: This is the third post in DASH’s ongoing What It Takes blog series, which examines and explains the various factors that make getting safe from abuse so difficult. Each post explores factors that survivors have to navigate on their journey to finding safety. Learn more about the campaign at the What It Takes page, and please spread the word: #WhatItTakesDC. 

This is a guest post from a current DASH resident.

I remember sitting down just wanting to cry full of anger, frustration and heartache, only nothing would come. I was so numb, so hurt I didn’t know who I was or how I even got here or what I was going to do. I just kept going, kept moving. I had so much to do. I had to be everything for everyone. I couldn’t be what I needed to be for myself. I could no longer take off the mask, it was who I became.

I began to realize that this abuse stemmed from childhood abuse. I started going to the Lighthouse for counseling and at first I wore my mask there too, but I started to crack and the pieces I had been trying to hold together began to shatter until I could no longer salvage it.

Throughout my abuse I kept records, I would constantly take pictures, write letters to use as documentation and I would go to the ER just to get a record.

My counselor at the Lighthouse referred me to the Housing Resource Clinic and I was hesitant at first but I went just to inquire. The staff was so welcoming but it still felt uncomfortable. I took the info I needed and began to plan as things began to get worse at home, not just for me, but for my children. My abuser cut my gas off then next the lights. I began to get harassed at work. The more I tried to do better, the more I felt defeated. I was so tired, so embarrassed I didn’t know what to do. I looked into my children’s eyes and saw so much hurt and anger. They became resentful of me and aggressive. I remember going to bed crying every night.

The more I tried to do better, the more I felt defeated. I was so tired, so embarrassed I didn’t know what to do.

The next week I showed up at the Housing Resource Clinic again. I researched programs, I was determined, I kept calling. Finally, after some months, DASH had an opening in their Cornerstone emergency safe housing program, “We have  space, you can move in.” Those simple words echoed in my head. It felt unreal.

I was hesitant of everything. I moved in first and stayed for a week before I allowed my kids to come to make sure it was safe. I was so depressed I sat on the floor for hours crying. I felt like a horrible mother. I remember when I first came I looked around Cornerstone and everyone seemed ok, I felt so alone and out of place.  Later I came to the realization that the other women were also wearing masks.

I went to DASH with a purpose, we are going to be healed. I don’t care if we have anything else, but we are going to be healed. I didn’t understand how it was going to happen or even what healing was but I was determined.

At first it seemed like things were getting worse, but it had to feel worse before it got better. I had to be retaught from my thinking to my true feelings to get to the root of the issue.

It was the most important, life changing thing that happened to me. I began to relearn me. I began to love me and be the best person I could be to me and my children. I was blessed to have come across DASH. It has allowed me to heal. DASH allowed me to be able to hear my own voice and recognize where I was mentally, psychologically and even emotionally.

My advice:

Start today, trust yourself again, love yourself again. Know that you deserve the best. Your life depends on you. Be determined.

#Yourfuturedependsonyou

Take Action:

You can learn more about what it takes for survivors to get safe at WhatItTakes.org or donate to DASH to support access to safe housing for survivors here.


Safe Housing Champion: Ad 2 DC

Anchor Award

In construction, an “anchor” provides structural reinforcement for the walls of the building, which perfectly describes what Ad 2 DC has done for the DASH brand. By strengthening our marketing and communications strategy they have both made our services more accessible and increased awareness of DASH and domestic violence as a community issue. Through their consistent and enthusiastic support, Ad 2 DC has made DASH a more capable organization better able to communicate our mission and values.

What is the purpose of the Ad 2 DC Public Service Campaign and why was DASH chosen this year?

– The goal of the Ad 2 DC Public Service Campaign is to find a non-profit organization who is in need of some additional advertising help. We give advertising professionals a way to help the community and boost their experience. It’s important to us that we can support the community we live in and make a difference to a local organization. We chose DASH because we saw an opportunity to work with an organization that has a really important mission and a unique business model. We also thought that DASH would be a really great organization to work with from a personal perspective as everyone seemed really nice and open to ideas!

What were are some of the unique challenges that the committee has dealt with in creating a domestic violence campaign?

– A major challenge the committee has had this year is playing the fine line between being provocative but also respecting the feelings of domestic violence survivors. It’s important to us to reach donors and audiences that might not know a lot about domestic violence by sharing the complexities involved in staying safe in a domestic violence situation. Domestic Violence is a very sensitive subject and we have to keep a very close on how we phrase things.

Why is raising awareness about domestic violence and safe housing important?

– We think it’s important to raise awareness about DV and safe housing because housing is such a critical aspect in feeling safe. If you are in a DV situation the first thing to consider is where to go. I think it is also important since domestic violence is becoming more and more spoken about that we raise awareness about the resources available.

What is a highlight from the DASH/Ad 2 DC partnership thus far?

– We have had a great time working with DASH so far. I think shooting the PSA commercial was a really neat experience. We were able to find actors on a volunteer basis and create something really great to share with the DC residents.


Top 10 Silent Auction Items for #AlliesinChange ’15

This year’s Allies in Change silent auction is set up to be our best one yet! Below are 10 of our favorite items.

1. The Jefferson Hotel

A one night stay at the luxurious Jefferson Hotel in a delux king room – with a full breakfast. Breakfast in bed anyone?

2. Knolls Erganomic Chair
A chair, valued at $800, that’ll make you enjoy sitting at a desk all day. They guarantee it.

3. DC United Game
Calling all soccer fans! We’ve got six tickets amazing tickets to the DC United Game vs. Columbus Crew on May 2nd. You’ll be so close you can see the sweat.

4. NPR Tour
Bid on an exclusive tour of NPR and viewing of the live taping of “All Things Considered.”

5. Nationals Tickets
We have TWO Nats ticket packages to bid on! 2 in field tickets to any game of the season as well as 4 tickets and a parking pass to the June 2nd game.

6. Restaurants, Restaurants, Restaurants!
Looking to try our some new places this summer? What about Cava Mezze, Brookland’s Finest, Bracket Room and Ambar? We’ve got gift certificates ranging from $50-$200 dollars.

7. Sky Wifi Smart Pen
Transcribe your notes, record your meetings, this pen will make you smarter and better at your job. Valued at $200!

8. Spy Museum
Get your ninja on at the National Spy museum. We’ve got 2 tickets, so you can impress a friend!

9. Learn to Ski or Snow Board!
Both Liberty Mountain and Whitetail Resort  generously donated skiing and snowboarding lessons for 2! This is your chance to perfect your form!

10. DASH Art
This year the kids Art Group made a one of a kind priceless quilt! It won’t keep you warm but it will definitely look beautiful hanging in your living room.

Check out our event website to buy your ticket today.


What It Takes Blog Series #2: Unjust Legal Treatment – How Battered Women Get Jailed for Their Abuser’s Behavior

Note: This is the second post in DASH’s ongoing What It Takes blog series, which examines and explains the various factors that make getting safe from abuse so difficult. Each post explores factors that survivors have to navigate on their journey to finding safety. Learn more about the campaign at the What It Takes page, and please spread the word: WhatItTakesDC. 

Leaving an abusive relationship is harder than you may think. People often ask: “Why didn’t she call the police?”

It’s a very logical question. After all, most of us were taught to call the police in violent situations. It would seem obvious that physical acts of domestic violence certainly merit telling the police. We picture restraining orders. A kindly police officer telling a victim: “You’re safe now. He’s not going to be able to hurt you or your children again.” Problem solved… right?

Calling the cops isn’t always safe for domestic violence victims:

If only things were so easy. In fact, domestic violence is rarely reported to the police. It’s estimated that over 70% of domestic violence cases go unreported. So why aren’t victims seeking help from the people in society we trust and expect to protect us?

The reasons are varied and complex, but some common issues that stop survivors from calling the police include:

– Shame and stigma: Many survivors feel crippling shame and stigma admitting to friends and family that they are in an abusive relationship, as well as to authorities like the police. This is due in part because domestic violence victims are so often blamed for the abuse they endure.

– Fear of getting arrested themselves: Survivors who call the police looking for help are often arrested if the officer cannot identify the aggressor in the dispute. Almost 2% of domestic violence calls end in a dual arrest. 

– Past criminal record: Calling the police may cause greater harm if the survivor has a past criminal history or if children are present during the violent incident.

But that’s not even the worst of it. One of the most harrowing potential outcomes for women abused by their partners involves remarkably unjust state laws that lock up mothers whose children were harmed—even murdered—by their partner. A new investigative report by Buzzfeed identified 28 mothers in 11 states sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for failing to prevent their partners from harming their children. In these cases, the mothers were charged with permitting child abuse, although they themselves were victims of chronic physical abuse, living their lives in fear of their partner. As a result, these women were imprisoned for their partner’s actions and their surviving children are deprived of their mother. As the article quotes: “It’s the ultimate case of blaming the victim.”

The report points out the key misconception that these cases are premised upon, and which DASH’s #WhatItTakesDC campaign is helping to overcome.

“Many judges and juries — still don’t grasp the answer to a question at the core of so many of these cases: ‘Why didn’t she leave him?’”

“Why don’t women leave abusive relationships?”

As DASH has explored in previous blogs, there are many reasons that survivors don’t leave abusive relationships. But the main reason in many of these cases was fear. As the article states, these women feared that by trying to leave they would provoke their partners to more extreme violence. Many feared for their own lives, as well as their children’s.

“I done tried to leave plenty of times,” Arlena, one of the article’s profiled survivors, testified, but he “actually called and threatened to kill my family.” The last time Arlena tried to escape, her partner came to her father’s house (where she was staying), grabbed her, threw her into his car trunk, and slammed it shut. She thought he was going to kill her. He didn’t, but Lindley moved back in with her abusive partner, saying that she “didn’t want to bring trouble into her father’s house.”

Arlena’s partner continued to assault her and her three-year-old son, eventually killing him. For this, Arlena was sentenced to 45 years in prison for failing to protect her son from her partner.

While in many states, a lot of the laws that are used to prosecute these women were originally intended to help curb child abuse, few of them recognize the complex dynamics of violent abuse involved in these cases.

Blaming women for their partner’s abuse of their children is also tied to American society’s broader notions of motherhood as sacrifice. The article explains that “lopsided application of these laws reflects deeply ingrained social norms that women should sacrifice themselves for their children.” In comparison to the 73 cases of women being sentenced to 10 years or more for their partner’s abuse of their children, Buzzfeed found only 4 comparable cases for men.

Defending domestic violence survivors from failure-to-protect laws

As abysmal as the situation is, there is reason for hope of reduced sentencing for these domestic violence survivors, as well as legal changes that protect those being abused from prosecution. When Minnesota and Iowa created similar child protection laws in the mid-1980s, “they added specific defenses for parents who reasonably feared they would be harmed if they stepped in to stop child abuse.”

The article also tells the story of a judge who had a change of heart upon realizing the gravity of abuse that a battered woman endured. The woman had been previously sentenced to 35 years in jail for failing to protect her daughter, who was killed by her husband. When the judge realized the gravity of this woman’s abuse, he imposed a strict probation plan and suspended the rest of her sentence.

DASH is leading the campaign for policies supporting domestic violence survivors in DC:

In the DC metro area, a domestic violence call is made to the Metro Police Department every 16 minutes. But for every domestic violence-related police call made, it is estimated that 70% of  incidents remain unreported.

Since 2006, DASH has doubled the amount of safe beds for survivors of domestic violence while also working to safety plan with survivors who choose to stay.

Take Action:

You can learn more about what it takes for survivors to get safe at WhatItTakes.org or register to attend our upcoming fundraiser, Allies in Change.


The Power of #SurvivorLoveLetters

Note: This is the first post in a new blog series by DASH called ‘Domestic Violence Matters’, which discusses current events and media coverage of domestic and sexual violence. We believe that empowering, provocative, and original media and storytelling must play a critical role in helping to overcome domestic violence in our society.

A new campaign, #SurvivorLoveLetter, displays love letters to survivors of sexual assault. The campaign was originally organized as an exercise of healing for survivors,  it has spread quickly and widened in scope. Now, family members, friends and even strangers are contributing their love letters to show their support of survivors of sexual violence. In her recent Huffington Post piece, Tani Ikeda, the organizer of the campaign, described it as the start of movement, “Survivor Love Letter enables us to talk about what survivorship really looks like. Through this growing collection of love letters, maybe we can build strategies for the ways we heal ourselves and our communities. I hope sharing our real stories makes other people feel that there is no one right way to heal.”

“I hope sharing our real stories makes other people feel that there is no one right way to heal.” – Tani Ikeda

We love this campaign. The dialogue surrounding sexual and domestic violence is too often clouded by judgement and fear or controlled by outsiders. This campaign not only magnifies the voices of actual survivors, it also sends a message of hope, love and healing. Using Tumblr as the platform for the campaign allows survivors to speak out on their terms, preserving safety and anonymity. They get to control the narrative – with no journalists or marketing professionals inserting their own, however well intentioned, agendas.

Sexual assault is immensely sad, as well as mind numbing, infuriating and sickening. But there is hope for healing, healing that can only happen on the terms of the survivors.

Below some letters that spoke to us – but there are hundreds more at http://survivorloveletter.tumblr.com.

http://survivorloveletter.tumblr.com/post/117144623019

http://survivorloveletter.tumblr.com/post/117049517869/dear-17-year-old-me-whats-happening-to-you

http://survivorloveletter.tumblr.com/post/117134328559/dear-survivor-here-is-an-exhaustive-list-of

http://survivorloveletter.tumblr.com/post/117140478674

http://survivorloveletter.tumblr.com/post/117136388464/dear-queer-survivor

http://survivorloveletter.tumblr.com/post/116985083674

http://survivorloveletter.tumblr.com/post/117144631504

DASH is an innovator in providing access to safe housing and services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their families as they rebuild their lives on their own terms.


What It Takes Blog Series #1: Finding Safety vs. Leaving, the Case for Safety Planning

Note: This is the first post in DASH’s ongoing What It Takes blog series, which examines and explains the various factors that make getting safe from abuse so difficult. Each post explores factors that survivors have to navigate on their journey to finding safety. Learn more about the campaign at the What It Takes page, and please spread the word: WhatItTakesDC. 

Most people think that in order to get safe from abuse, victims of domestic violence should just leave their abusers, that separation is the solution. The reality however, is that leaving is a complicated, dangerous process that takes time and planning.

At DASH we don’t require survivors of domestic violence to leave their abuser in order to access our services. We do this because empowerment is an integral part of our model, but also because it just doesn’t work, mandating the behavior of adults rarely does. Instead, we focus on safety, we want the victims we work with to be as safe as possible in whatever choice they make. For some this is controversial – but for us it’s a natural component of the culture of trust we’ve built at DASH.

2

For this reason, we are very intentional about the language in the What It Takes campaign, we want to address the misconception that all victims of abuse “should just leave,” but we also want to push back on the idea that leaving is the best option for everyone. It’s important to acknowledge the reality that not everybody leaves – and it is just as vital for those who stay in abusive relationships to find safety. Our Clinical Director, Emma Kupferman put it best when she said,  “If we are really going to fight the epidemic of domestic violence, we have to be there to support all survivors, not just those who have left.”

Leaving is the most dangerous time for victims of domestic violence, it takes planning and an immense amount of foresight. Before leaving, survivors need access to housing, stable finances, important documents and reliable transportation among others. Another big barrier for survivors who want to leave is fear – and for good reason, 75% of domestic violence related homicides occur when the survivor is trying to leave. In these situations the abuser will go to extreme lengths in order to maintain power over their partner.

1

For survivors who decide to stay in their relationships – and many do – safety planning is crucial. Safety plans are based on the individual situation of the survivor, there is no one size fits all plan for staying safe. Survivors are asked to think about where they feel safe in their home, different things that trigger their abuser as well as people they trust that they can reach out to in emergencies. An example of a safety plan can be found here.

We are not advocating that survivors stay in abusive relationships – we are advocating for support and access to services for all survivors, no matter their situation.


Learn More

Safe Housing Champion: Mary Braxton

Building Brick Award

We are excited to award Mary Braxton, Assistant Community Manager at Edgewood Commons, with the “Building Brick” award. In construction, the “building brick” is that which makes up the substance of the structure. Mary Braxton’s help to ensure that the families at DASH are provided with more than just a safe place to run, but the ability to establish new homes – quickly, easily, and comfortably, the way a home should be – helps changes lives.

How did you first become connected to DASH?20150406_071949

My first connection with DASH was around the beginning of 2014 while working at another Edgewood Managed property. I was online researching housing programs for victims of Domestic Violence to assist a resident that was dealing with a serious domestic issue with her family and I came across a link (http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/dashs-empowerment-project-rapid-re-housing-for-survivors-of-domestic-violen ). I clicked on the link  it was an article about DASH. I then googled DASH to get the contact information. I reached out to DASH to get more information and I started referring residents to them.

What has DASH’s impact been on the survivors of domestic violence you work with?

DASH has had a tremendous impact on the survivors I work with. The financial assistance that DASH has provided to survivors it has enable them to maintain their affordable housing and most are now receiving counseling from other sources.  Unfortunately, due to the type of work I do I’m unable to provide specific stories.

From your perspective as a property manager, what are some of the unique challenges that survivors of domestic violence face when looking for affordable housing?  

The greatest challenge survivors face is having good credit. Many of the survivors I work with depended on their abusers for financial assistance to pay their rent . Once the abuser leaves then the survivor can no longer rely on that source for assistance. Unfortunately, it’s a trickle-down effect and they’re not able to pay the rent on time and as a result I have to sue them. Every time they’re sued it’s reported to the credit bureau and then their credit is negatively impacted. When the survivor goes to look for affordable housing the first thing that is checked is their rental and credit history. Most HUD funded properties will not accept applicants with negative rental history.

Why do you think that safe housing is an important service for survivors of domestic violence in DC?

I think safe housing is an extremely important service for survivors because it allows them time to get themselves together and reflect on their situation. Without  safe housing they will not be able to move forward with their recovery.


6 Reasons to Attend Allies in Change; Part 2

Join us at Allies in Change as we honor the people and organizations that make a difference at DASH. Need a reason to buy a ticket? We’ve got six good ones. See part 1 here.

4. Hear a Survivor’s Story. Our Special Guest Speaker will be a DASH survivor who will share her story and courageous efforts to escape from abuse and rebuild her life.

5. Take snapshots in our photo booth! Thanks to MOI Inc. our photo booth sponsor!

6. Support Safe Housing. At DASH we believe that safe housing should be a right shared by everyone. Help us make that a reality, buy a ticket today.

Join us on April 30th, go to our event page for tickets and information.

WEB Twitter-and-FB-profile-pic