How DC is Responding to DV in its Communities Family by Family

On one day in 2015…511 victims were served by domestic violence service providers in the District. Of the 511 served in a single day, 302 victims found refuge in emergency shelters or transitional housing, and 209 victims received support services such as counseling, legal advocacy and children’s support groups.

In fact, the DC Coalition on Domestic Violence further reports that:

34,966 domestic violence-related calls were made to the Metropolitan Police Department in 2015 — or approximately 1 call every 15 minutes, representing a 6% increase over 2014 and a 13% increase since 2012.

27% of families experiencing homelessness in DC reported a history of domestic violence in 2015 and 15.3% were currently homeless as a direct result of a violent incident.

The District’s Response

The DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence is a resource for the thousands of adults and children experiencing domestic violence in the District each year, as well as the local organizations who serve them. The Coalition offers support and services, education, advocacy and leadership to its membership of 15 nonprofit community-based organizations with programs and services dedicated to eliminating domestic violence in the District. DHS partners with two such members including My Sister’s Place (MSP) and the DC Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH) to provide domestic violence services and resources for consumers who are experiencing this type of trauma.

My Sister’s Place

As DC’s oldest domestic violence shelter, MSP has been providing shelter and other resources for survivors since 1979. MSP is the only domestic violence shelter in DC that offers a full continuum of care from immediate crisis via hotline through transitional-to-permanent housing. This ensures that survivors don’t encounter the anxiety and re-traumatization by having to repeat their story to numerous counselors.

By 2010, there was enough need to expand and renovate the emergency shelter, Sanctuary Plus, to provide shelter for up to 45 women and children. The facility features 15 bedrooms, a children’s resource center, a secure playground, and a commercial kitchen with a full-time chef who plans nutritious meals for families. During their approximately 90-day stay at Sanctuary Plus, residents develop and pursue goals towards long-term safety and independence.

In 2012, MSP launched RISE (Reaching Independence through Survivor Empowerment), an innovative transitional-to-permanent housing program. Here consumers are counseled on credit and budgeting skills, provided help to secure employment and leases in their own names, and are given a gradually declining rental subsidy for 12 months (with the option to extend up-to an additional 12 months).

MSP Survivor Support

At 28, “Jennifer” and her three-year-old daughter were living with her grandmother. She reports that her grandmother raised her and was verbally and physically abusive throughout her childhood, and that the abuse escalated after her grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. “I didn’t think people would believe me or that anyone would help me because most often when people think of domestic violence, they think of two people in a romantic relationship, not a frail old lady,” said Jennifer.

According to the experts at MSP, “ Legally, domestic violence includes a broad spectrum of relationships — including violence between siblings, children and parents, roommates, and caretakers.” Domestic violence is not a “momentary loss of temper,” but an ongoing technique used by the batterer to enforce control through the use of fear. The batterer makes a conscious decision.

To hear more of Jennifer’s story and about the work of MSP, see here. If you are currently a victim of domestic violence, know that you too can be a survivor. Please call MSP’s anonymous hotline to get help today: 202.529.5991.