The Dream of a Diploma is Still Within Reach for Survivors

Picture of young woman in cap and gown

It’s graduation season, a time to reflect on hard work, celebrate achievement, and look forward to the future. But for many who were unable to make it across that stage, domestic violence was one of the determining factors holding them back from their dreams.

According to research published in the journal: Review of Behavioral Economics, 1 in 5 Americans will drop out of high school, and of those millions, 34 percent of girls, and 29 percent of boys reported being a survivor of domestic violence before the age of 16. When it comes to sexual abuse, 21 percent of girls, and 6 percent of boys reported being survivors. And the abuse potential graduates endure does not have to be physical for it to keep them from their full academic potential.

Over 66 percent of survivors have reported verbal abuse disrupting their studying and ability to do schoolwork. Abusers can also disrupt their ability to complete school by not allowing them access to money to pay for classes or transportation, socially isolating the survivor, and damaging or destroying their personal property. And while the loss of a degree can be measured in dollars and cents ($427,000 less earned over a lifetime for a 2-year degree, and $822,000 for a 4-year degree), the loss of a survivor’s safety and health can cause damage that is unable to be measured.  

With our innovative, low barrier to entry programs, DASH has seen firsthand how providing safety and security to survivors can reverse the negative effects of abuse and foster healthy habits which lead to accomplishments as small as earning their degree, and as big as restoring their sense of self.  

We proudly congratulate all the participants in DASH’s programs who will be graduating this year.  

This is only the beginning of your story!  

Donovan Trott, Manager, Development & Communications

Volunteer Appreciation Week


Volunteers are essential and play a major role in fulfilling our mission.

With support from our volunteers new skills are learned, spaces are transformed, and basic needs are met for survivors and families. 

Thank you for choosing to spend your extra time with DASH. 

We appreciate each and every one of you!

With Gratitude,

The DASH Family

Click here to learn more about volunteering with DASH.

5 Things Netflix’s MAID Gets Right

IMDb on the Scene - Interviews" Maid (TV Episode 2021) - IMDb

We know that @Netflix’s hit series #MAID struck a chord with many of you. We’ve heard from volunteers, donors, and victims, about how the show inspired you to act and give back. We also wanted to illustrate that while the show is loosely based on one woman’s story, Author @stepville, its themes and situations are all to real for the millions who will find themselves in need of transitional housing this year alone.

Here’s our list of the top 5 things MAID got right about transitional housing and domestic abuse.   

5 – The family court system’s bias against mother’s claiming abuse  

In Maid we see the character of Alex temporarily lose custody of her daughter after claiming abuse in family court. While every case is unique, several studies have shown that mothers who report abuse – particularly child abuse – are losing custody of their children at staggering rates. Such studies highlight a “lack of education and training on domestic violence and child abuse in family courts.”   

4 – Stereotypes and inaccurate perceptions of people on welfare  

Maid frequently illustrates the shame Alex experiences while receiving SNAP, a form of government assistance, and the judgement she receives while using it. But like Alex, most recipients of welfare programs are only on it for a short time, 1-12 months on average before they are able to obtain jobs and exit the program.  

3 – Getting out is not easy  

One of the things Maid does best is showing the viewer why it is so hard to detangle yourself from an abusive relationship. We often hear it takes seven times before someone can permanently leave an abuser but this isn’t purely due to emotional manipulation or coercive control. Kids, isolation, lack of resources, the threat of worse violence, cultural beliefs and institutional responses all play a role in making it difficult to leave an abusive situation permanently.  

2 – Transitional housing is more than just shelter 

A common misconception is that emergency shelters provide just a roof and a meal. This is far from the truth. Most transitional housing programs, including DASH, provide a variety of services which can include counseling and support groups like the one Alex participates in and eventually leads, childcare, transportation, life skills, education and or job training, if needed. It takes a lot to make someone whole again after leaving an abusive situation.  

1 – Emotional Abuse is abuse  

Probably the compelling, and desperately needed, part of Maid’s depiction of abuse is that it does not involve physical violence. Thanks in large part to historical media depictions of violence against women, most people still have a hard time grappling with the variety of ways in which abusers inflict abuse. Even Alex herself does not initially think she has been abused. She is never beaten by her boyfriend, but she is physically and sexually intimidated. He steals her only mode of transportation, effectively isolating her and her child, cuts her off financially, screams and breaks things around the home. These acts can often be excused as “letting off steam” or being “a little controlling” but they are in fact abuse.  

Donovan Trott, Manager, Development & Communications

Black History Month

Black History Month is celebrated every February to honor and recognize the achievements of Black leaders.

At DASH, we pay tribute to the legacy and ongoing contributions of Black leaders in our community past and present.

“Differences of race, nationality or religion should not be used to deny any human being citizenship rights or privileges.” – Rosa Parks

Our mission is to break barriers that prevent marginalized survivors from accessing housing and supports. We believe safe housing is basic human right for all.

Follow along as we honor Black trailblazers who led anti-violence activism and broke barriers for the Black community.


Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Dating violence is more common than people think, especially among teens & young adults.

That’s why we’re participating in #TDVAM, an annual month-long push focused on advocacy & education to stop dating abuse before it starts.

Join us in promoting self-empowerment & healthy relationships. Everyone is deserving of a healthy, loving relationship!

Follow along all month using the tag #TalkAboutIt

Human Trafficking Prevention Month

It’s estimated that as many as 24.9 million adults and children are trapped in some form of human trafficking around the world, including in the United States.

Victims of domestic violence are highly vulnerable to exploitation.

Their abusers use tactics to exert power and control in different ways. These include false promises of security, respect and love.

When fleeing human trafficking, access to safe and confidential shelter or housing is key. DASH’s safe housing programs welcomes survivors of human trafficking. We can provide survivor-centered resources and systems navigation as they rebuild their lives on their own terms.

If you are a victim of human trafficking and need help, or believe you know someone who is being trafficked, you can contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at ☎️ (888) 373-7888.


EXCEL Award Announcement

We are honored to share BIG news!

The Center for Nonprofit Advancement announced that DASH’s President & CEO, Koube Ngaaje, was selected for this year’s Excellence in Chief Executive Leadership Award.

After an extensive application and interview process with staff and board members, Koube was named this year’s EXCEL award winner. The Center is recognizing Koube’s impact of leading a new phase of growth and innovation marked by increased revenue, expanded programming, a focus on monitoring and evaluation, and several awards and honors.

About the Award:

Awarded by the Center since 2005, the EXCEL Award honors exceptional nonprofit chief executives in our region. The competition recognizes achievement in the areas of innovation, motivation, community building, ethical integrity and strategic leadership.

Please join us in congratulating Koube and celebrating her bold leadership!


DASH Welcomes White House and HHS

Yesterday, DASH welcomed Secretary Xavier Becerra from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Rosie Hildalgo, Senior Advisor on Gender-Based Violence and Special Assistant to the President, White House Gender Policy Council for a site visit.

DASH was honored to be selected for the site visit – a testament to the impact of our best practice program and service model for survivors.

DASH’s Cornerstone program was selected for the visit where Secretary Becerra shared the news of the announcement of nearly $800 Million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to support the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act Program grantees.

During the visit, Secretary Becerra talked about the importance of a public health response to domestic violence and why domestic violence is such a significant public health issue.

Secretary Becerra also emphasized the historic American Rescue Plan funding that has been appropriated to the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, that will support domestic violence programs, sexual assault programs, and culturally- specific organizations.

JooYeun Chang, Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and Shawndell Dawson, Director, Family Violence Prevention and Services, ACF were also in attendance for the visit.

DASH’s President & CEO shared:

“Domestic and sexual violence community-based organizations like DASH require significant investments to expand services and meet the health and safety needs of survivors and families.

The funding announcement and visit from HHS is an honor, and we are proud to be able to highlight our critical work in reaching survivors and their families in our Nation’s Capital“.

Read more about our life saving work and the critical need for investments in local safe housing programs.

Do #1Thing this October

The #1thing that can end domestic violence is our collective power as a community.  

If we each, individually, do #1thing this month to support survivors, we can transform our community and BE the social change we all desire.

So today, DASH is asking you, what will your #1thing be?  

For CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, their #1thing is offering a $10,000 match to provide safety and healing for survivors and families this month. This means that all gifts made to DASH will DOUBLE, up to $20,000.   

Now is the time to choose your #1thing. 

Will you…  

Once you have picked your #1thing, share your story to help raise awareness!

Use #1thing and #dashdc on social media and inspire others to action.  

Let’s Celebrate the Right to Dream

This month is a special milestone for DASH, and we want to share it with you!

One year ago, in August 2020, we launched our Right to Dream safe housing program.

True to our mission, we innovated this program to address the service gaps in our city.

Our program advocates reported a substantive need for housing and supportive services that focus on transitioning youth (ages 18-24) escaping domestic and sexual violence. 

Right to Dream is now the first program of its kind in DC to connect transitioning youth survivors who are detached from their families, homeless or unstably housed, such as couch surfing or on the street, with longer-term safe housing and wraparound supports. 

Will you join us to celebrate by making a gift in honor of Right to Dream? 

Follow along on our social media to hear more stories about the impact of this program for youth survivors.

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District Alliance for Safe Housing | PO Box 91730 Washington, DC 20090
202-462-3274 | info@dashdc.org | 501(c)(3) | #71-1019574