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.
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:
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.
– 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
1. A chance to stay at the Luxurious Jefferson Hotel. We have some amazing Silent Auction items this year – including a one-night weekend stay for two in a Deluxe King Guest Room with breakfast valued at $500.
2. It’s the Allies in Change 5th anniversary! In the last 5 years, with the help of DASH supporters, we have grown by leaps and bounds in our capacity to safely house survivors of domestic violence. Come honor the individuals and organizations that have made our growth possible – being DC’s largest dedicated safe housing provider.
3. We’ll be showcasing the #WhatitTakesDC campaign. For the last 6 months we have been working with Ad 2 DC on videos and materials designed to raise awareness about DASH services and highlight the challenges that survivors often face when trying to find safety.
We are excited to award Princess McDuffie with the Support Beam award at our 5th annual Allies in Change benefit on April 30th. In construction, the “support beam” is that which steadies and strengthens a structure. Mrs. McDuffie has helped to strengthen and steady the lives of the youngest survivors of abuse – children – with fun, creative expression and have truly made a difference in the lives of those recovering from trauma, and we and the families that we serve are all better for it.
Interview with Awardee, Princess McDuffie
What brought you to the DASH Art Group? I have worked in the domestic violence field for the past 13 years and I have always had a love for creative arts. I was able to merge my passion of working with survivors of domestic violence and my creativity when I saw an advertisement for help needed in the Art Group at DASH.
Why do you think Art Group is an important program at DASH? Children need to be exposed to the arts. They should be able to be creative and have a place that allows them to be expressive. The trauma of domestic violence on children can have a lasting impact on them and having an Art Group gives children the development, growth, and outlet needed to overcome the obstacles that domestic violence may have placed upon them.
What is your favorite Art Project that you have worked on with the kids? I enjoyed working on the framed art projects that were showcased during the DASH Open House as well as the BalderDASH Reception. These items captured the children’s hard work and efforts and they were bid on and purchased by several donors. Personally, I was able to bid and snag a couple of the art pieces at BalderDASH to showcase in the office and at home. They are great conversation starters for guests and colleagues about the great work at DASH.
Why do you think safe housing is an important service in DC? Safe housing allows survivors of domestic violence to continue with their daily lives, have a place that they can call home, and be able to have support and advocacy in the fight against domestic violence.
DASH is an innovator in providing access to safe housing and services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their families as they rebuild their lives on their own terms.
The District Alliance for Safe Housing is excited to announce a number of new events and partnerships this February!
2/14: The Valengrinds Day Massacre
Join us on Valentine’s Day for a head banging concert to remember at the Rocketship featuring everyone from Cold Blue Mountain to Clay Davis. For more info check out the Facebook Event.
2/17: Fat Tuesday Beer Tasting at the Red Derby
We’ve got a great event for our beer lovers out there! Oskar Blues presents Dale’s Firkin (What’s a firkin?) with $4 pours starting at 5pm. Get a chance to meet the brewers and discuss fermentation processes, craft beers and micro breweries. All proceeds go to DASH.
2/21: Selfish Dreams Beauty Expo and Fashion Show
The Chicara’s Dreams team is hosting a fashion show and free beauty expo to benefit DASH on February 21st. To purchase a ticket to the fashion show and for more info check out the event page.
2/25: Water Cooler Wednesday
Ad 2 DC is hosting a happy hour at Penn Social to raise funds for the special campaign they are putting on for DASH this spring. More info can be found here.