October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). At AdvantEdge, we want to highlight the importance of this month. According to the National Coalition on Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women will experience physical violence from a partner. The purpose of this month is to empower and support survivors.
One of AdvantEdge’s clients, the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project (DCVLP) works every day to break the cycle of domestic violence. They provide pro-bono legal services to survivors and at-risk youth. In most cases, effective legal representation is imperative for a person trying to break free from a toxic relationship. DCVLP goes above and beyond their work in court. They run a weekly domestic violence resource clinic and assist clients with other needs, such as housing. DCVLP also provides crisis counseling, safety planning, case management and referrals to other resources a survivor might need.
Actress Connie Britton and Tina Tchen of #TimesUpNow spoke at DCVLP's 10th anniversary celebration
There are many resources for survivors of domestic violence and allies who are looking to help. A good place to start is with education- on the signs of an abusive relationship, what a healthy relationship looks like, and what the barriers are for those who are trying to break the cycle. It’s often not so easy to just leave. Survivors find that their finances, homes, children, jobs, and even personal safety are at risk when they consider leaving an abuser. That is why the work of non-profits like DCVLP is so important.
There are many other groups in D.C. who make it their mission to assist survivors and break the cycle of domestic violence. My Sister’s Place provides a full range of care from emergency shelter to helping women apply for jobs. Their goal is to empower everyone to build healthy relationships, and you can learn more about their work here. DC Safe is another organization that provides emergency services, court advocacy, and works on system reform. Some of their work includes transporting survivors to and from the court and offering food assistance.
An example of the services DC Safe provides and how much it takes to support them.
The need to end the stigma around domestic violence is real. A huge barrier to leaving a violent situation is not having support, so even just promoting resources makes an impact. Be aware of the various signs of abuse, familiarize yourself with available resources, call out people who participate in victim blaming and donate to a cause that supports survivors. Together, we end the stigma and help people break the cycle of domestic violence.