Department of Family Services – Domestic and Sexual Violence Services

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
703-324-5730 TTY 711
12011 Government Center Parkway, Pennino Building, Floor 7, Suite 740
Fairfax, VA 22035
Toni Zollicoffer

Volunteer Voices – 2023 September


Welcome to the 2023 September issue of Volunteer Voices, a monthly newsletter for current and potential Domestic and Sexual Violence Services (DSVS) volunteers.

In this Issue:

Table of Contents
  • Notes from the Staff
  • Self-Care Corner: 5 Ways to Turn Loneliness into Connection
  • London’s Story
  • Meeting the Moment: A Post Pandemic Look
  • TED Talk: Kinship: A Foster Care System Where Every Child Has a Loving Home
  • Quotables
  • Program Spotlight: Domestic and Sexual Violence Services and Second Story Join Forces to Support Youth
  • A Day in the Life: Jennifer Perkins
  • Join the Conversations!
  • Reviews: “Cracked Up”
  • Raising My Voice: Meet Sammar Butt
  • Birthdays
  • Test Your Brain
  • Educational Resources
  • Make a Note!
  • Parting Shot


Notes from Staff

photo of  griselda gonzalez Hello all,

My name is Griselda Gonzalez, and I am a victim advocate with the Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC). I have been with DSVS since February 2023. Prior to joining the DSVS team, I was part of the advocacy team for The Women’s Center, one of DSVS’ partners.

Throughout my professional career, I have continuously found myself circling back to victim services. I have been serving victims of domestic and sexual violence for about 6 years collectively, and what motivates me the most is seeing the changes that occur in a person’s journey and being a contributing factor in the positive changes.

DSVS volunteers contribute to the success of our programs by not only providing administrative support at our offices, but also through their cooperative effort creating awareness in the community by sharing helpful information. Your dedication and time are commendable. A big “thank you!” to all our volunteers.

During my leisure time, I enjoy the outdoors, with the beach being my favorite scenery (I’m from California). However, I have recently explored the nearby mountains with my fur babies—Bruce, Toby, and Dexter—and my current partner, and I have to say, the views are great! I am grateful to have joined DSVS and look forward to working with all of you.

Once again, thank you!

Griselda Gonzalez
Victim Advocate


Self-Care Corner: 5 Ways to Turn Loneliness into Connection

woman with her dog

Social butterfly or wallflower? It doesn’t matter; we are all feeling a little more lonely these days. Too much time in isolation can lead to sleep difficulties, increased heart problems, memory issues, and elevated stress levels. While it’s true we’re more digitally connected than ever, endless scrolling doesn’t bridge the gap. Learn more about what can.




London’s Story

woman pushing child on a swingMy name is London, and I'm a domestic violence survivor. I was shot twice because I no longer wanted to be in a relationship with my abuser.

The day before getting shot, I went to the courthouse to file for a protective order against my abuser because he tried to hit me and my child with a carjack, the kind that is used to lift vehicles. The next day, on my way to work, I was shot twice. I was bleeding profusely but was able to make it inside of a building to get help. I thought I was going to die that day, but I fought for my life to be here for my child. After leaving that relationship, I thought I would never be in another abusive relationship again.

But life has its way of showing you different! Three years later, I met someone who I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. I told him my dreams and aspirations and the things I had been through just to find out later down the line, he would use everything I told him against me. The whole time, he portrayed himself to be someone he wasn't. He was controlling and manipulative, not to mention an abuser.

I was back in the same predicament I told myself I wouldn't be in.

One night, after he was making threats to me, he made me sleep on a cold floor with no blanket while he slept in the bed with a belt in is hand in case I tried to get up and leave, so I waited until morning.

I planned my escape that night. I knew he had to work the next morning, so I faked sleep until he left for work. I woke up the kids and we made our way to my car, but what I didn't know was that he was already onto me, and he ran after me trying to stop us from leaving. I was able to get into my car and lock the doors, and I drove as fast as I could to get away.

My children and I slept in my car for some days because I had nowhere to go where he wouldn't be able to find me.

I knew I had to relocate, so I drove to Virginia to get away from my abuser.

I reached out to Bethany House, crying over the phone for help, and they didn't hesitate to help us. I was so grateful to stay at the safe house. It was so welcoming and so clean. At first, I was a little nervous because I didn't know what the shelter would be like, but I was so happy when I got there. The staff was amazing and treated us like family and made us feel loved. They fed us, gave us whatever I needed for my children, and asked if I needed them to pray for me. The staff was so kind and respectful and also respectful of my privacy.

I am forever grateful to be a part of the Bethany House family.

They always have activities to keep us busy and to take our minds off of whatever it is we are going through. Bethany House also helps us to meet our goals, provides support groups, and so much more. Bethany House also has an Aftercare Program that we can join once we leave the safe house. I would recommend Bethany House to anyone who needs help leaving an abusive relationship, and I would give them five stars.

[Reprinted with permission from Bethany House]


Meeting the Moment: A Post Pandemic Look

dsvs_report_frontpageCovid-19 did much more than make the world sick. The global pandemic stretched our health, public health, and scientific resources and exposed gaps, including in those agencies and organizations that support people impacted by interpersonal violence. Fairfax County’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Services division and its partners take a look at the effect of the virus on the community, staffing, and morale in its Meeting the Moment: A Post Pandemic Look report.


Ted Talk: Kinship: A Foster Care System Where Every Child Has a Loving Home

ted_talk_grpahic Children who witness or experience domestic violence in their homes can have a broad range of responses. Statistics show when these children are removed from their homes, they do better when placed with a family member or someone they know. This is called kinship care, and it’s a step the foster care system often skips. This gap is something Sixto Cancel, 2023 Audacious Project grantee, experienced firsthand. In this TED Talk, this founder of Think of Us, an organization working to reform child welfare by centering kinship care, shares more about his plan to help thousands of kids searching for a loving home with one simple, systemic switch.



heart graphic “The world is hugged by the faithful arms of volunteers.” — Terri Guillemets






Each newsletter will include this section to help share reviews, spotlight the people who support Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, recognize birthdays and list upcoming trainings and meetings.


Program Spotlight: Domestic and Sexual Violence Services and Second Story Join Forces to Support Youth

second story logoSecond Story, founded in 1972, has a longstanding history of youth services and support. Learn more about the work this organization does and how its partnership with Domestic and Sexual Violence Services adds a protective layer of specialized services.





A Day in the Life …

… with Jennifer Perkins

Whether it’s work—her day job as an ADAPT counselor or the various workgroups, committees, and teams she sits on—or fun, Jennifer Perkins can be found in the mix. Over the nearly 15 years she’s been with Fairfax County, she has never worked the same day twice. “I have never had a typical day since I started in my position. Every day has brought new challenges, struggles, along with successes,” she says. Check out an anything but typical day in her life.


unscripted logo-web

Join the Conversations!

Domestic and Sexual Violence Services has a new podcast, Unscripted: Conversations about Sexual and Domestic Violence. Stay in the know with these biweekly discussions!





cracked up film cover

"Cracked Up”

“Cracked Up” is a documentary that follows the story of Darrell Hammond, the comedian made famous on “Saturday Night Live” for his ability to deliver spot on impressions. “Cracked Up” reveals Hammond’s struggles behind the scenes and off screen, struggles that would surprise many loyal viewers.

Hammond experienced unimaginable childhood adversity, and his story demonstrates how many people try to manage life after such horrific experiences. Hammond’s experiences with drugs, alcohol, flashbacks, and other lingering effects of his trauma demonstrate the universality of trauma: No one is immune from its effects no matter how famous they become or how much money they earn.

“Cracked Up” follows Hammond on his journey to creating a life for himself that is rooted in the present moment while having made sense of how his childhood trauma impacted him. The documentary also gives viewers insight to the changes that occur in someone’s brain and body because of trauma, and the power a person feels once they realize they engage in certain behaviors for a reason. Behaviors such as drug use or excessive drinking are re-cast as coping mechanisms and things people do to manage the aftermath of overwhelming fear without the presence of supportive caregivers.

“Cracked Up” will leave you with a sense of hope that no trauma is so big it cannot be overcome with the help of support and connection to others.

This review was written by Brittany Vera, child witness to domestic violence coordinator.

Raising My Voice

photo of Sammar ButtMeet Sammar Butt, ADAPT Co-Facilitator

“A friend of mine was going through a bitter divorce, and I did not know how or where to start,” says Sammar Butt, ADAPT co-facilitator. “I started looking into resources, and it just brought me to DSVS.” Learn more about Sammar’s volunteer story.






Cherylene Sugick, 2
Nourane Salem, 6
Laura Faino, 12
Victor Batson, 12
Maria Sayrs, 19
Emily Essex, 24
Ronda DeVore, 25
Lucinda Audey, 28
Audrey Arnold, 28

Test Your Brain

Sudoku uses your math and analytical skills to help you develop concentration power and sharpens focus skills. Give this month’s puzzle a try!

Sudoku puzzle









Answer Key

Educational Resources

black gears

Unpacking Gender
Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023

7-8:30 p.m.
Chantilly Regional Library
4000 Stringfellow Road
Chantilly, VA 20151

Participants will explore the messages we are taught about gender and how they can affect our relationships with ourselves, loved ones, and community. We will discuss the impact gender roles and stereotypes have on everyone and how this knowledge can help us prevent violence. This workshop is aimed at parents, guardians, family members, and other caregivers interested in learning how to talk about gender with the children, teens, and young adults in their life. This workshop is free, but registration is required.

Volunteer Quarterly Meeting
Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023

6-8 p.m.
12011 Government Center Parkway
Fairfax, VA 22035

Registration is required.

Tier One
Tuesdays and Thursdays, Oct. 3-Nov. 2, 2023

6 p.m.
Virtual via Zoom

Tier One is an 18-hour training on the dynamics of domestic violence, the systems that respond to those experiencing violence, and available resources in our community. The training is designed for professionals interested in learning the dynamics of domestic violence to deepen their work with clients and community members, and anyone interested in volunteering with Domestic and Sexual Violence Services. Please note that you must attend all nine 2-hour sessions to receive a certificate of completion. This training is free, but registration is required.


Make a Note!

notepad and pen

Please take a moment to log on to your Volunteer Management System (VMS) account and log your hours for the month of August. Please also log any time you spent on training under “volunteer training.” If you do not see this selection under your opportunities, please email Tanisha Cox, and she will log on to add it to your account. Please enter your hours for each day you volunteered and not as a lump sum. If you need to log hours for a previous month, please email Tanisha Cox to let her know so she can be aware of the entry and expedite the approval process. 

  • Please enter your hours for each day you volunteered and not as a lump sum.

  • If you need to log hours for a previous month, please email Tanisha Cox to let her know so she can be aware of the entry and expedite the approval process.


Parting Shot

 Centerpieces set up by staffDSVS volunteers give their all year ‘round. In this photo, former-volunteer-turned-DSVS-staff Kendal Cristaudo helps Abby Picard, human trafficking and sexual violence coordinator, put together table centerpieces during the Teen Talent Showcase in February





Check out past issues of Volunteer Voices.

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