October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
According to the Fairfax Department of Family Services:
- 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men will experience sexual violence, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner during their lives.
- More than 43 million women and 38 million men will experience psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Domestic violence is an important topic to discuss, albeit a difficult one. Many survivors once felt trapped with their attacker, believing that silence was their safest option.
With the pandemic and quarantining, many domestic abuse victims feel more alone than ever. We want the discussion of domestic violence to no longer be taboo so that the stigma is lifted and those experiencing abuse are encouraged to step forward, far from their abuser and towards a brighter future.
We have many heartbreaking stories from survivors who receive services from Pathway Homes. Nichole, a 5-year Pathway Homes resident, bravely shared her story for publication in one of our newsletters:
“I started dating the doorman from a bar I went to with my mom. This was the start of my abusive relationships and daily drug use. He rode in a motorcycle club and I wore a ‘property patch’ and was subject to all the conditions required of someone who is ‘property’. It took me five years to escape from him and his friends. Unfortunately, I ran from him straight into the arms of another abuser.”
“…I spent the next five years homeless in snow, ice, hurricanes, and with abusive men. I wanted to try to get help, however, was too embarrassed to follow through. In 2013, I came back to Fairfax County, still homeless, still actively using and met another abusive man. My physical health also began to decline. I had been a physically healthy child growing up and in my early adulthood. After being homeless, I developed asthma, learned I had fibromyalgia and tested positive for Hepatitis C. I had come to accept that I would die in the woods.
“Thankfully, in January of 2015, I met with a volunteer with FACETs who connected me with Pathway Homes. I met with a Pathways’ supervisor in February and two weeks later I met with the supervisor and counselor to look at what may be my new apartment. I was very nervous. The apartment was clear and bright when I walked in. There was a foyer which I just felt too nervous to step away from to look at the entire place. The Pathways folks encouraged me to come all the way in and look around. I moved into my new apartment on March 12, 2015.
“Looking back, I don’t know how much longer I would have survived on the streets. I was mentally and spiritually broken. I prayed often to not wake up when I went to sleep. Being given this opportunity restored so much of my faith. Having a clean environment, a real bathroom I can use whenever I want, a working kitchen, a place to store my groceries and a bed to sleep in has been a blessing.
“Pathways helped me manage my mental and physical health. The counselor comes weekly and helps me with my tools such as breathing, mindfulness and my gratitude list. I have an orange tabby cat which helps so much with my anxiety. I have gone through the Hepatitis C treatments and manage my medications in support of my mental and physical health.
“I feel like a simple thank you will never be enough for all Pathway Homes has done for me.”
We could not be more thankful to Nichole for being so strong and connecting with us. We are proud to be a part of her story of success. She is an incredible and inspiring person, as are many survivors of domestic violence.
The Fairfax County Department of Family Services is hosting a few events to spread awarenesss on domestic violence, which you can find here: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/familyservices/domestic-sexual-violence/domestic-violence-awareness-month
We plan to “purple out” on Oct 22nd to spread awareness with the Fairfax County Department of Family Services and hope you join us!