Since 1989, October has been designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here in Virginia, the General Assembly passed legislation in 1986 to create an organization dedicated to reducing domestic violence across the Commonwealth called the Family And Children’s Trust fund (FACT). I served for eight years as a volunteer Trustee of FACT, appointed by Governors Warner and Kaine. As October comes to a close, it is important to promote awareness of this serious issue and reflect on the impact FACT has had on the Commonwealth as well as in our own community
FACT was created to serve as a partnership between the public and private sectors to raise funds for the prevention and treatment of a wide spectrum of family violence. Today, it is a successful charitable organization raising hundreds of thousands of dollars annually and working within local communities across the Commonwealth to create a holistic approach to deal with domestic violence.
Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of poverty for families, and 57 percent of cities list domestic violence as the top cause of homelessness. FACT provides financial assistance to support programs across the Commonwealth for the prevention, treatment, and awareness of domestic violence. Many local charities working here in the 44th district were award recipients of these grants over the past thirty years of FACT’s existence.
Last year in Fairfax alone, 1,605 emergency protective orders were issued against family or household members for acts of family abuse involving violence, force or threat, and 258 children were provided with emergency shelter with their parent or guardian. Every month, in Fairfax County domestic violence hotlines receive over 240 calls with victims requesting 64 family abuse protective orders.
Many across the Commonwealth have seen the license plates featuring a child’s handprint and the caption “KIDS FIRST” or the plate with a simple heart. These plates are the most successful effort to provide the necessary funds for FACT to continue to help our community based efforts. I encourage residents to support these efforts, by purchasing a “KIDS FIRST” or any Family and Children’s Trust Fund specialty license plate through the DMV, or participate in the tax write-off program or send tax deductible contributions to FACT’s office in Richmond.
Domestic violence is typically a pattern of coercive behaviors used by an individual to gain or maintain power and control over another individual in the context of an intimate, dating, or familial relationship. Forms of domestic violence may be criminal (e.g. physical assault or stalking) or not (e.g. verbal abuse or financial control).
To report a crime, call the Fairfax County Police Department at 703-691-2131 or, for emergencies, please call 911.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any form of domestic violence, and you want to talk about options and resources available, call the 24-hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline at 703-360-7273.