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What It Takes Blog Series #1: Finding Safety vs. Leaving, the Case for Safety Planning

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.

Learn More



Dear Friends,

On September 17th, 2013, there were 40 unmet requests for housing from survivors of domestic violence in D.C. In a single day, 40 survivors attempted to find housing to leave an abusive home but were turned down due to the lack of capacity and funding. At DASH we believe this is unacceptable.

On June 19th, DASH is participating in DoMore24, a 24-hour online giving campaign designed to support organizations like DASH that make D.C. great. We are calling on all supporters, volunteers and housing champions to join in and Give, Share, Then Do More for our community to help survivors and their families stay safe.

  1. Give –  donate on June 19th at the DoMore24 DASH page
  2. Share  – post on Facebook and Twitter about your donation and urge others to give
  3. Then Do More – commit to finding 5 friends, coworkers and family members to donate to DASH for DoMore24!

At the end of the day, contributions will help to ensure that no one has to choose between living in an abusive home and living on the street.

“I’m happy long as I can sign something and it’s mine. I can open my own door, sleep in my own bed; my child is safe. I can decide when I come and go, and who can visit. I can lead my own life.” – Survivor

–        $24 welcomes a survivor and her family to DASH safe housing with a gift basket of emergency supplies.

–        $48 allows DASH to pay the fee for a survivor to apply for permanent rental housing. With your help DASH can cover a survivor’s application fee for rental housing – which is one small but impactful way you can help an abused family find housing stability, perhaps for the very first time.

–       $96 will provide a transportation pass for a survivor and her family to arrive safely to and from work and school.

Mark your calendar for June 19th and join in this one-day of community giving to support survivors and their families as they rebuild their lives on their own terms.

Many thanks,

DASH Staff

12 Days to Make the Season Bright for DASH Families!

It’s not too late to consider a gift for the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH)!

DASH’s programs help prevent homelessness for women and children who have survived domestic violence; and help them to establish safe, independent lives on their own terms.

We decided to make it easy for you to give.

Click on the link below to make your year-end donation to DASH!

Donate Now

Your giving will allow a family a fresh start and their NEW YEAR can begin TODAY.

DASH has grown to become D.C.’s largest dedicated safe housing provider for survivors and their families. We are able to continue to provide these services for survivors with your support!

  • 23,870 safe housing bed nights to 220 individuals (74 women and 97 children);
  • prevent another 350 individuals from falling into homelessness by facilitating their placements in emergency, transitional, and permanent housing; and
  • assist over 1,500 survivors to exercise their housing rights to avoid unlawful eviction stemming from violence in their homes through our community outreach efforts each year.

 Thank you for your support!

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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