How NVFS supports victims of domestic violence and what community members can do to help
Did you know that domestic violence affects approximately 1 in 4 homes in Northern Virginia? According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men report experiencing violence in an intimate relationship at some point in their life.
Domestic violence comes in many forms, not just physical. Victims can suffer from emotional abuse, and it’s just as harmful as physical. Common signs and symptoms of emotional abuse include:
- Quickness to anger
- Retreating from previously enjoyed activities
- Poor memory
- Overwhelming feelings of self-doubt
- Decreased sense of self-worth
If abuse is left unaddressed, survivors can carry a wide range of issues with them throughout their lives. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please reach out to the 24-hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline at 703.360.7273.
“It is very common for victims of domestic violence who do not receive support to develop PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), MDD (Major Depressive Disorder), to have trauma symptoms, and to have other long-term physical and emotional effects,” explains Saara Amri, a mental health therapist at NVFS’ Multicultural Center.
The symptoms of abuse and trauma, left untreated, are the same for both adults and children, and according to Fairfax County, thousands of children witness domestic violence in their homes.
Meredith McKeen, director of the Multicultural Center and Youth Initiatives, adds, “Unaddressed trauma can interfere with healthy development and the formation of relationships, because it affects the ability to trust others, a sense of personal safety and the ability to manage emotions.”
NVFS’ unique approach to assisting victims of domestic violence lies in its comprehensive and holistic approach, which focuses on culturally competent and easily accessible services provided in our clients’ own languages.
NVFS is considered an essential partner in all the communities we serve, with unique expertise in providing services to underserved immigrant populations who might not otherwise have access to these services.
McKeen adds, “NVFS addresses the needs of domestic violence survivors from multiple facets, ensuring that their basic needs, including food, shelter and safety, as well as their long-term emotional and psychological recovery needs are met.”
“I feel strong, I have confidence in myself, I feel comfort and relief knowing I have NVFS’ support…I will not be stuck, I know my rights with the legal system, and I feel a sense of stability and consistency in my life for me and my children.” – Diana, NVFS client and domestic violence survivor
NVFS’ Multicultural Center provides individual counseling, advocacy and case management to immigrant women who are experiencing, or are at risk of experiencing, domestic violence. With programs such as Batterers Intervention Program, Women’s Domestic Violence Support Group and individual services, NVFS is equipped to serve survivors at any stage.
It is important to remember that with safety and support, people can and do recover.
Apart from treating victims who are survivors of domestic violence, NVFS works tirelessly to prevent it, focusing on identifying the needs in the communities served and learning about trends in how others are addressing victims’ needs.
NVFS is a proud partner with various domestic violence coalitions in Northern Virginia. These include law enforcement, family law providers, shelters and advocacy groups.
“Education and awareness is key,” notes Amri. “It is important for members of the community to be able to understand the potential signs of domestic violence and to be aware of the resources available to victims and their families.”
So how can you advocate for victims and raise awareness about the mission of ending domestic violence in Virginia?
“Members of the community need to feel comfortable providing these resources to victims of domestic violence and be able to support victims through empowerment and advocacy,” she adds.
In observation of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we invite you to join NVFS in wearing purple on Oct. 19 to bring awareness to victims of domestic violence.
Learn more about NVFS’ Multicultural Center here.
24-hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline: 703.360.7273.