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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

Safe Housing Champion: Mary Braxton

Building Brick Award

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?20150406_071949

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.

6 Reasons to Attend Allies in Change; Part 2

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. See part 1 here.

4. Hear a Survivor’s Story. Our Special Guest Speaker will be a DASH survivor who will share her story and courageous efforts to escape from abuse and rebuild her life.

5. Take snapshots in our photo booth! Thanks to MOI Inc. our photo booth sponsor!

6. Support Safe Housing. At DASH we believe that safe housing should be a right shared by everyone. Help us make that a reality, buy a ticket today.

Join us on April 30th, go to our event page for tickets and information.

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Safe Housing Champion: Princess McDuffie

Support Beam Award

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.

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!

Welcome to Jennifer Lee, Newest DASH Board Member!


Jennifer Lee (left)

While Jennifer Lee, Senior Consultant at MOI, Inc. is new to DASH’s Board of Directors as of last week, she is definitely not new to the organization. A longtime supporter and friend of DASH, she moved to DC after graduating from Fisher College in Boston in 2005. She first connected with DASH through her work at MOI, a full service interiors and office solutions company. MOI has been a great corporate partner to DASH.

Jennifer’s expertise in creating comfortable, aesthetically pleasing work and office spaces translated into creating those same kinds of spaces for survivors living in DASH residences. MOI and DASH worked together to build beautiful homes for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, with Jennifer playing a pivotal role. This past April, we honored her with the Keystone Award for Leadership in the Development of Housing for Victims of Domestic Violence.

We’re thrilled to welcome Jennifer to our board and cannot wait to work with her in this capacity! Read more about Jennifer and her work with DASH here.

Appreciation for the Bloomingdale Farmer’s Market!

gardenEach and every Sunday during the growing season, Cornerstone residents take part in a bounty of fresh vegetables from our friends at the Bloomingdale Farmer’s Market. Everything from spring radishes, to summer squash, to fall greens – all are used in cooking classes at Cornerstone, and most photo-5often, cooked directly in our residents’ apartment kitchens, adding to the veggies harvested from our own garden. We are so grateful for our local farmers who grow and donate their vegetables, and especially to our wonderful neighbor Ted McGinn, who faithfully brings the produce to and from DASH every week.

photo-4Last week in Art Group (https://dashdc.wpengine.com/2013/07/30/art-healing-and-community/) Cornerstone kids created this banner to show our appreciation for this wonderful, and tasty, partnership. Thanks, Bloomingdale Farmers!

Art, Healing, and Community

DASH_LINE_003As part of our ongoing, wonderful community DASH_LINE_001partnership with The Red Derby, we’re pleased to announce that two Red Derby staff, Ann-Marie VanTassell and Beth Hansen, started an Art Group/Class for DASH’s children every Tuesday night at our Cornerstone Facility.  The class is a huge success and we could not be more grateful to Ann-Marie and Beth for DASH_LINE_005bringing this experience to DASH as part of their innovative, new non-profit, The Arcade, which is dedicated to promoting and educating art in Washington DC, and whose goal is to establish studio and workshop space for artists in the area to enable artists to have a dedicated space to continue their craft both affordably and in a creative, collaborative environment, and to continue teaching and encouraging children to create art. They accomplish this through their arts programs for youth groups in the city, and they use their fundraising events as a space for education.

DASH_LINE_007Most recently, DASH’s Children’s Art Group held its first Art Show at Cornerstone.  Our resident children proudly provided tours of the works to their families and community members. The beautiful pieces represented projects ranging from an “About Me” magazine to prints made from melted crayons and paint mixed with water and soap. It was a wonderful opportunity to photocelebrate our children’s hard work and support healing from trauma through creative expression. Michael Henderson, Edgewood resident and a valued member of the DASH community, attended the art show and shared the following:  “The value of this type of expression for children cannot be described in an email. But I’ve seen the work you’ve done with the photo-1children and how you’ve engaged the community and, well, thank you. The art work was wonderful!”

Thank you to all of those who attended and a HUGE thank you to our volunteer art teachers Anne-Marie and Beth and to our photo-3extended family at the Red Derby.


To learn more about Ann-Marie and Beth’s work at The Arcade, click here: http://thearcadedc.blogspot.com/2013/03/dash-art-group.html.


DASH Founder and Executive Director Blogs from Kabul

Our founder and executive director Peg Hacskaylo is in Kabul and will be in other parts of Afghanistan on sabbatical for the next three months. She’s traveled there to visit domestic violence housing and shelter services, run by Shukria Khaliqi. Shukria visited DASH last year for three days. Follow along as Peg blogs for The Huffington Post from Kabul. Here is her first post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-a-hacskaylo/the-currency-of-change_b_3254787.html.

DASH featured in National Newsletter by NHLP

DASH was featured in the National Housing Law Project’s (NHLP) March 2012 newsletter, which highlights a number of DASH’s programs as national best practices for addressing homelessness amongst domestic violence victims.  The NHLP is a nonprofit national housing and legal advocacy center established in 1968 to advance housing justice for poor people.  The newsletter includes a full page on DASH, featuring information on The Cornerstone Project, The Empowerment Project, Project PATH, and the Domestic Violence and Housing Taskforce. DASH is one of a handful of organizations in the country dedicated to increasing housing access for victims  by developing housing programs and advocating for systemic change.

DASH has made great strides in addressing the housing needs of survivors of domestic violence. Since its inception, DASH has helped survivors have over 37,665 “safe nights” and provided safe housing to 218 individuals. In addition, through community outreach efforts, DASH trained more than 1,500 abuse survivors to exercise their housing rights so as to avoid eviction stemming from violence in their homes. DASH also has trained more than 60 housing providers seeking to improve their response to victims in their programs. Despite the economic downturn, DASH continues to work hard to ensure quality housing for survivors and their families. For more information about DASH, please visit www.dashdc.org.

The newsletter also featured information on the report released in February by the National Network on Domestic Violence – a National Census on Domestic Violence Services.  It illustrated that, in total, 1,726 out of 1,944 domestic violence programs in the United States and its territories participated. The census has several findings regarding housing needs of domestic violence survivors. The census found that on September 15, 2011, 67,399 adults and children sought services from domestic violence programs. Of those individuals, more than 36,000 received emergency shelter or transitional housing from a domestic violence program. Of the victims served, 35% were living in emergency shelter and 19% were living in transitional housing. Of the domestic violence programs surveyed, 74% provided emergency shelter, and 35% provided transitional housing. Additionally, 82% of the programs provided advocacy for survivors related to housing or landlords.

DASH is honored to be in partnership with the National Housing Law Project. For information on their domestic violence and housing newsletter, please contact Meliah Schultzman at mschultzman@nhlp.org or 415-546-7000 x. 3116.

March 2012 Newsletter FINAL-1

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