CW: This article discusses domestic and sexual violence. Please refer to the end of the article for on- and off-campus resources.
Washington, D.C., hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony in advance of the opening of a new domestic violence shelter that will provide support for survivors of domestic violence, offering counseling, individual case management and resources for finding supportive services.
The shelter is still under construction, but District officials cut a ribbon on the shelter Oct. 13 in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The shelter is a collaborative effort of the office of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), the D.C. Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants (OVSJG) and My Sister’s Place (MSP), a District-based nonprofit that provides housing and leadership tools to domestic violence survivors and their children. MSP was able to work on this project with the help of a $4.5 million grant from OVSJG, aiming to serve as a model on how to provide low-barrier services for domestic violence survivors.
The shelter contains six apartment units, some of which can accommodate large families and will assist domestic violence survivors by serving as a launching pad into transitional housing, allowing families to spend between three and six months at the shelter before moving, according to the press release.
Toshira Monroe, deputy director of MSP, said the shelter will support District residents who are survivors of domestic abuse.
“The new shelter means that we have the support of the Mayor and city to address the rampant domestic violence in the District,” Monroe wrote to The Hoya. “Everyone has a potential to be at risk for domestic violence, but some populations are more at risk and have less access to resources. And that’s why we do that work we do.”
Around 4,000 women die each year from domestic violence, and women between the ages of 18 to 34 and women of color tend to be affected at higher rates.
In the United States, 35.6% of women and 28.5% of men will experience intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking in their lifetimes. In D.C., rates are higher for women, with 39% of women and 25.5% of men in D.C. experiencing these forms of abuse.
Monroe said this project and Domestic Violence Awareness Month will shed light on the importance of building healthy relationships and a community of loved ones to fight the threat of domestic violence.
“I hope that people take from this month the importance of communication and healthy relationship building,” Monroe wrote. “Additionally, for those who haven’t and have, that it’s important to build a community of support and resources that everyone can access.”
During the 2021-23 fiscal years, the Bowser administration invested $36 million into 709 units of housing and accompanying wraparound services and collaborations between local government and nonprofit organizations, including MSP. These figures represent a 47% increase in funding for domestic violence housing and services since the 2019 fiscal year.
Arika Adams, executive director of CASA For Children, an organization working on advocacy and mentorship development for foster and court-involved children in the District, said many of the children and families CASA works with are affected by domestic violence.
“All of the children and families we work with are impacted by trauma,” Adams wrote to The Hoya. “Many times that trauma involves Domestic Violence. Regardless, the trauma is long-lasting. However it’s not hopeless. With the help of a CASA volunteer, children and family are able to receive therapeutic support and advocacy along with many other tangible supports and connections to empower them to move forward.”
Domestic Violence Awareness Month aims to raise awareness about the complexity of domestic violence and bring empathy and attention to those who are affected by it, Adams said.
“I hope that folks who have not been affected by domestic violence are able to learn how complicated the issues at play are. They are deep and it’s never a simple ‘just leave’ answer,” Adams wrote. “I hope folks who have been affected by domestic violence feel seen, heard and supported. They are not alone and there are resources available for support.”
Local organizations like My Sister’s Place and House of Ruth, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support to survivors of domestic abuse and their families, are resources that offer shelter, counseling and hotline services. The District has a number of available hotlines for survivors to call and seek assistance.
Lisa Streeter, who serves as outreach coordinator of the Progressive Life Center, a District-based social welfare center that provides mental health services to individuals and families in the sphere of foster care, said she believes resources like these shelters are critical in domestic violence prevention and intervention.
“My Sister’s Place accommodates individuals/families and offers counseling, individual case management and referrals to other supportive services and resources,” Streeter wrote to The Hoya. “Nationally, emergency shelter and transitional housing continues to be the greatest unmet need for domestic violence survivors. Domestic violence shelters provide victims with a safe haven and immediate protection from danger.”
While trauma often shrouds families and children affected by domestic violence, support systems and resources like the new domestic violence shelter offer hope for disrupting these cycles, Adams said.
“It is another positive step in supporting survivors,” Adams wrote. “I’m grateful for any and all movement towards providing options and opportunities available.”
This article was updated on Oct. 21 to reflect that the ribbon-cutting ceremony did not mark the official opening of the shelter.
Resources: On-campus resources include Health Education Services (202-687-8949) and Counseling and Psychiatric Service (202-687-6985)); additional off-campus resources include the D.C. Rape Crisis Center (202-333-7273) and the D.C. Forensic Nurse Examiner Washington Hospital Center (844-443-5732). [If about clerical assault: Individuals can also report sexual misconduct by a Jesuit by contacting the province’s victim advocate at [email protected].] If you or anyone you know would like to receive a sexual assault forensic examination or other medical care — including emergency contraception — call the Network for Victim Recovery of D.C. (202-742-1727). To report sexual misconduct, you can contact Georgetown’s Title IX coordinator (202-687-9183) or file an online report here. Emergency contraception is available at the CVS located at 1403 Wisconsin Ave NW and through H*yas for Choice. For more information, visit sexualassault.georgetown.edu.
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