A woman battered and bruised by her abusive husband leaves one night to escape. Unable to find a safe place to stay, she is forced to go back, time and time again. Across town another woman flees with her children. Not knowing where to go, they sleep in the woods despite freezing temperatures. In a third house, a child pulls the blankets over her head, trying to drown out the sound of yelling and punching down the hall. It’s a sad American truth that one in three women murdered are killed by an intimate partner. In Fairfax County 57 percent of homicides in the last year were domestic violence related.
Nationwide domestic violence injures more women than car accidents, muggings and rape combined. Studies show the brain development of children who are exposed to domestic violence can be stunted. A child exposed consistently to domestic violence, either by sight or sound, is twice as likely to abuse his or her own future spouse, perpetuating an awful cycle of violence.
This year I was appointed as the Board of Supervisor’s liaison to the Domestic Violence Prevention, Policy and Coordinating Council. In that capacity I am joining the effort to shine the light on this oft-hidden and denied blight on our families. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and to help spread the word I’m hosting an event on Oct. 17 at Kilroy’s (5250 Port Royal Road, Springfield). We will help raise money for two local charities working to help domestic abuse survivors: Shelter House and Fairfax CASA. Kilroy’s has generously agreed to donate 10 percent of sales to the charities, and many other organizations have donated raffle items.
Shelter House's domestic violence shelter, Artemis House is Fairfax County's only emergency shelter for families and individuals fleeing domestic/sexual violence and human trafficking. The emergency shelter provides crisis intervention and temporary housing in an undisclosed "safe-house." Safety planning, immediate basic needs assistance and comprehensive service planning is available to prepare for a transition to more permanent and stable housing. Artemis House provides intensive case management services, individual and group counseling, employment assistance and children's programs.
Fairfax CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, helps children navigate the confusing and scary aftermath of domestic violence when the juvenile court steps in to provide protection due to abuse or neglect. Often, so many things are changing for a child—his or her home, school, guardians—that having one dedicated advocate to fight for his or her rights and help with the transitions can make a huge difference when it's most important. Fairfax CASA finds and trains ordinary citizens to be the voice in court for these children at such an uncertain time.
I hope you’ll join me at 6 p.m. at Kilroy’s this Oct. 17 to grab a bite to eat, raise awareness of domestic violence, and fundraise for two great charities working to help domestic violence survivors. You can call 703-425-9300 or email Braddock@fairfaxcounty.gov to RSVP. You can also go to fightviolence.eventbrite.com to learn more.