County Conversation Podcast: Reclaiming Joy After Assault is Possible

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The County Conversation - Reclaiming Joy After Assault is Possible

Kathryn Harlow, domestic and sexual violence counselor with our Department of Family Services' Domestic and Sexual Violence Services Division, provides both individual and group therapy services to those who have experienced domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking.

She is featured on the Feb. 8 episode of the “County Conversation” podcast discussing how to reclaim your joy after an assault. And yes, Kathryn says recovering and finding joy after domestic or sexual assault is possible.

“Healing and moving forward to live a happier, healthier life is a big reason why I do this work," said Harlow. "I really believe that that recovery is possible, and I've seen that recovery. It is possible, but it doesn't happen overnight, just like trauma is not usually caused overnight.”

About one in three women and one in four men will experience physical violence by an intimate partner, but those numbers can be higher for emotional abuse because not all domestic violence includes physical abuse.

Emotional support is key, whether that be individual or group therapy, as well as what seems like basic self-care tips (i.e., exercise, hobbies, and getting enough sleep) as well as incorporating coping strategies (mindful breathing and grounding techniques) into your life.

"Trauma and stress has a tendency to pull us out of the present moment, whether by pulling us backwards in time to the past where that trauma was occurring, or stress can pull us into the future. One of the more of the simple portable comping grounding using your five sense. Grounding is the way to pull ourselves back to now."


The county’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Services offers various services, counseling, advocacy, education prevention, outreach and community engagement and coordination services. There is also a 24-hour hotline (703-360-7273) and the Domestic Violence Action Center (703-246-4573), created to provide culturally responsive information and support services for victims of domestic and sexual violence, stalking, and human sex trafficking, and their families. If you are in danger, call 9-1-1.


The “County Conversation” is a podcast featuring employees and subject matter experts from the Fairfax County Government discussing programs, services and items of interest to residents of Fairfax County. Click here to listen to past episodes of "County Conversation.” To find other county podcasts, visit

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