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Change is in Your Hands with Doorways for Women and Families

Linley Beckbridge, Communications and Outreach Manager, Doorways for Women and Families
Apartment checklistFounded in 1978, Doorways for Women and Families serves women, men, youth and children experiencing abuse and homelessness in Arlington, Virginia. Doorways creates pathways out of homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault leading to safe, stable and empowered lives. From immediate crisis intervention to counseling, housing and employment support, we offer real options and multiple pathways to build brighter futures.

knowthe5_teendvmonth (1)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.

aki-tolentino-125018February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. “Teen DV Month (sometimes called TDVAM) is a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in teen and 20-something relationships and promote programs that prevent it,” writes Loveisrespect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Throughout and beyond Teen Dating Violence Month, Doorways is engaging our community to help our neighbors better understand the issue and learn about the critical resources available. The more informed we are, the better positioned we are to prevent abuse before it happens, respond to survivors when violence occurs, and strengthen our community’s coordinated response to these issues.
Knowthe5-LogoNow is the time to take action. Change is in our hands. Fittingly, the theme for Teen DV Month 2018 is “Hands Unite: Do Your Part.”

Through Doorways, making a difference is as easy as 1, 2, 3:
Step 1: Learn the five must know facts about dating violence.
Step 2: Take a Knowthe5 selfie to social media with #knowthe5.
#knowthe5 thunderclap cover imageStep 3: Post your selfie and tag 5 friends to join you to multiply your impact!
Here’s some sample text to go along with your photo:
We can help stop dating violence. Change is in our hands. Join me this February, #teenDVmonth, and #Knowthe5 about teen dating violence: To the awesome people I’ve tagged, please post your own selfie like this (and tag 5 friends to do the same).
IMG_5559Resources for Teens, Families and Community Members:
For life-threatening, imminent danger situations, please call 911. Survivors of violence and their families have rights that allow them to make decisions that are best for them regarding legal action, and getting immediate help to be safe does not impede these rights.

IMG_3422(2b)-small_cropIf you know of or suspect abuse, you can call Doorways’ 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (703-237-0881) for immediate help.
Have questions or concerns? Need support? Resources accessed via Doorways? hotline include education, information and referrals, hospital accompaniment for forensic exams, emergency shelter, court advocacy services, counseling and support groups for survivors of domestic, dating, and sexual violence. All services are free and accessible regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, language spoken or legal status. Learn more at

Helpful Websites to Learn More:
Arlington County


Passion and Conviction with JCADA

By Spencer Cantrell, Legal Access Program Director for the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse’s (JCADA).Spencer provides legal information and referrals to victims of domestic abuse experiencing a variety of legal issues.

My work at JCADA allows me to combine my passion for helping survivors with a faith-based sensitivity and perspective. JCADA is terrific at helping survivors regardless of race, national origin, ability, background, faith, gender or sexual orientation while also providing a religious and cultural sensitivity that, I believe, makes us unique.

I admire Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She said,”I am passionate about the law because many people forget what lawyering is about. It’s about helping people.” I keep this quote on my desk as a reminder of why I decided to become an attorney and what my motivations are at work on a daily basis.

Recently, JCADA started Family Law seminars, where an attorney is available to come in and share basic information with clients about different family law topics, such as the basics of filing for divorce or child custody factors. This is a great opportunity for clients to learn more, in a safe space, about what they might expect, but also for clients to learn from one another and receive some informal emotional support. I’m very excited to continue this series at JCADA and, eventually, branch out into the myriad of topics affecting our clients, including tax issues, enforcement of court orders, and wills and estate planning.

Working with victims of domestic violence can be quite demanding, and having friends, family and pets at the end of the day can be refreshing. ​​I advise people that want to do this work to maintain a solid, intentional work-life balance. I also advise people to celebrate their successes with clients, because it helps to identify any silver linings that can be found.

I love any success a client achieves, and I define success however a client does. When a client chooses to divorce an abuser and completes that process, it’s typically treated as a success. When a client is able to co-parent with an abuser or enforce their child custody arrangement, that is a success.

One of my favorites is something a highlighted on the JCADA blog last summer, where we were able to help a client in a myriad of ways:helping her write h​er victim impact statement, court accompaniment, crime victim’s compensation reimbursement, retaking classes missed due to court without penalty, and moving to a safer location. I loved thinking creatively of ways to help this client and watching her become more empowered through the process.

Elle Woods said in her commencement speech at the end of Legally Blonde, “passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law — and of life. It is with passion, courage of conviction, and strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world.” I try to live by these mottos in my interactions with clients.

April: Sexual Abuse Awareness Month

April marks the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). It seems as though the news has been rife with stories about high profile rape and sexual assault cases in the recently, both at home and abroad (India, Brazil, Steubenville, US military) and with the HRC report in January shining a light on DC’s own mishandling of sexual assault cases, awareness about this cause could not come at a better time. Several Catalogue nonprofits are working actively to promote awareness of sexual assault and abuse this month, through workshops, events, advocacy and awareness campaigns.

DASH will celebrate its 2013 Allies in Change Luncheon at the end of April, recognizing community partners who have made a difference in the lives of women and children facing homelessness due to domestic violence.

Men Can Stop Rape works to mobilize men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women. , they are offering discounts on trainings and materials to promote knowledge about men’s role in stopping rape and sexual assault.

DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCCADV) celebrated a SAAM Day of Action on Tuesday, April 2nd, mobilizing on social media and reaching out to the Justice Department and DC Mayor Vincent Gray to advocate for freedom from sexual violence.

Break the Cycle provides comprehensive dating abuse prevention programs exclusively to young people. Before SAAM started, Break the Cycle was part of the movement to pass the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was signed into law by President Obama on March 7th.

Safe Shores will also celebrate National Child Abuse Prevention Month this month, and welcomes community members to several special events that teach about the complexities of child abuse (sexual, emotional/mental, and physical).

Check out the Catalogue website for more information on small, local nonprofits working to protect women and girls, and follow the latest trends and events on SAAM on social media here.

In The News …

Homeless student population to crest 2,500 in Fairfax County for first time (Washington Post): “The number of homeless students in Fairfax County public schools is likely to surpass 2,500 by the end of this school year, according to school officials, what would be a new record for one of the most affluent communities in the nation.” Over 15% of these are “unaccompanied youths,” or children who live without a parent or guardian. In DC, the total number of homeless public school students reached nearly 3,000 last year. Overall, “according to estimates from the Education Department, there are more than 1 million homeless students nationwide, an all-time high.”

Prince George’s leaders unite against domestic violence in new assessment program (Gazette): “By the end of the year, all Prince George’s County patrol officers and municipal law enforcement agencies will be equipped to better handle domestic violence incidents and provide immediate assistance to victims thanks to a state-led program. According to Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, “This calls for law enforcement to be trained to identify domestic violence situations so that they can help victims to take the steps to prevent it;” and according to Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, “the effort is focused on identifying abusive situations and preventing domestic violence cases from escalating to reduce the number of homicides.” (Learn about Catalogue nonprofits DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project today.)

MontCo health agency recommends healthy snacks, tracking student obesity (Washington Examiner): “Montgomery County’s Health Commission is recommending that the county track student obesity and put more nutritious snacks in vending machines, as part of officials’ latest efforts to make county residents healthier.” The Commission also suggested to the Montgomery County Council that it “should provide more opportunities for exercise for children and adults, and establish better accommodationsfor mothers who are breast-feeding.” Five years ago, the County “passed a ban on the use of artificial trans fats in chain restaurants and all food service facilities,” which include public schools. What are successful school-based health efforts that you have experienced?

In The Community Minutes …

By Marie LeBlanc, Community Partnerships Coordinator

Each month, WAMU features one or more local nonprofits in a segment called “Community Minute.” This month, two Catalogue for Philanthropy charities are featured on the radio and online: City Kids Wilderness Project and Man Can Stop Rape. While we always enjoy reading about our nonprofits in the Catalogue, hearing directly from staff members on the radio brings their stories to life in a new way.

City Kids Wilderness Project offers experiential learning programs for inner-city youth, utilizing the outdoors and a natural environment as a classroom for academic, recreational and life skills. Development Associate Mike Macrina shares the story of a City Kids alumnus who is now a freshman at West Virginia University, and will be working in Alaska with the National Outdoor Leadership School this summer — and attempting the first all-African American summit of the highest peak in North America.

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In The News …

What’s Driving College Costs Higher? (WAMU): Just days before student loan rates are set to double for millions of Americans, President Obama and congressional leaders haven’t reached an agreement on legislation to keep those rates at 3.4 percent. The debate reflects the growing concern over the debt burden many take on to get a college education. About two-thirds of bachelor’s degree recipients borrow money to attend college, and collectively, student debt has topped $1 trillion [...] The average college senior in the U.S. now carries $25,000 in student loan debt at graduation. Those figures rise when graduate degrees are figured into the equation.” We’ve written about the briefing at the White House on College Affordability before and highlighted some of our nonprofits that are dedicated to college affordability. What needs to improve besides interest rates?

County officials, nonprofits fear domestic violence funding cut due to Congressional gridlock (Gazette): “Prince George’s County officials and advocates for domestic violence victims said they are worried that gridlock in Congress could jeopardize essential services to victims and their families [...] nonprofit and government organizations in Prince George’s County received $4 million in VAWA funding last year, through a total of 91 federal grants.” County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks says that “the largest impact will be to the outreach and support efforts for victims, particularly in the Latino community.” You can learn about, and support, nonprofits in Prince George’s right here.

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Come Forward

In a Politico op-ed, “Violence against women is no ‘women’s issue’,” Women Thrive Worldwide co-founder & President Ritu Sharma writes:

This lesson has been learned by longtime activists, who have been battling this scourge that affects one in three women globally. Gender-based violence can take many forms: rape and assault used as weapons of war, domestic violence, acid burnings and female infanticide. The list is long.

But ending this violence has one common element: The men who are political leaders — village elders, pastors and mullahs, fathers, brothers, husbands and boyfriends — need to come forward and say stop. [...]

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