Commentary: Putting an End to Domestic Violence in Fairfax County

Commentary: Putting an End to Domestic Violence in Fairfax County

Domestic violence is the leading cause of homicide in Fairfax County. Every month, there are over 160 domestic violence related arrests, 65 victims file for family abuse protective orders, 260 calls are made to domestic violence hotlines and 14 families take shelter at emergency domestic violence homes across Fairfax County. Last year, 467 children were homeless in our community, primarily because they and a parent fled their homes due to domestic violence. However, for every family that flees, several stay in the home out of fear that if they leave, their abuser will track them down and harm them. Consequently, thousands of children are impacted by domestic violence, and the scars do not heal easily, if ever. Many victims feel there is no way out of the situation, but Fairfax County offers a variety of different resources to help victims and their families, and there is an increasing chorus of voices standing up to say this is unacceptable.

In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, Fairfax County is asking the community to “look again” at domestic violence. When we think of domestic violence, an image of a particular victim might immediately come to mind. However, oftentimes a domestic violence victim isn’t whom we might think. In fact, domestic violence usually does not just involve one victim, but often affects an entire household. Children in homes where domestic violence occurs often struggle the most. Studies show that the 3 million children who witness domestic violence in their homes each year will suffer significant emotional and cognitive harm, even if they are not on the receiving end of the physical abuse.

The harm goes beyond what we might even typically think of when conversations of domestic violence occur. In fact, issues surrounding family pets may sometimes prolong instances of domestic violence. Oftentimes, fear of abandoning pets is a major reason why many women feel as though they cannot escape domestic violence. More than seventy percent of women who entered shelters reported that their family pet had also been threatened, injured, maimed, and even killed by the batterer.

On Oct. 15, my office is raising awareness by hosting the 3rd Annual Stop Domestic Violence Event. My co-hosts for this event, and champions in domestic violence prevention, are Sheriff Stacy Kincaid and Mayor Scott Silverthorne. The event will take place from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Chuy’s Mexican Restaurant, 11219 Lee Highway in Fairfax, and will feature information tables and support opportunities for nonprofit organizations involved in domestic violence prevention, treatment and awareness.

Whether you are attempting to flee abuse, are a witness to abuse, or simply want more information on how to address the issue if you encounter it, please come out to the event on Oct. 15. If you are not able to attend you can call the Fairfax County 24-hour hotline at 703-360-7273 for assistance. We hope to put an end to domestic violence in Fairfax County by assisting victims and raising awareness in the community regarding the services available in Fairfax County.