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:
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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!
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.
My 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]
Covid-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.
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.
“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.
Second 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.
… 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.