McLeod: Help Domestic Violence Victims

by Doorways for Women and Families

We have a single mother “Amina” in shelter with her toddler daughter for several months.  Amina is an immigrant from Ethiopia and speaks primarily Tigrinya and some very elementary English and Amharic.  She has immigration challenges, cognitive problems, and a diagnosis of schizophrenia.  Without the tool of the Language FON service, communicating effectively with Amina about these very complex issues and how to address them is nearly impossible.  Arlington County’s mental health providers have used untrained friends to translate for her during mental health treatment, which has been found by our staff to be ineffective in helping her understand her diagnosis.  Research has shown that when friends and family interpret, they are prone to omit, add, and substitute information.  Often they inject their own opinions and observations, or impose their own values and judgments, rather than interpreting what the patient or health care provider actually said.  Only when we have used Language FON have Doorways staff found that Amina has truly demonstrated understanding what she is being told.  The availability of this service has been invaluable to assisting Amina, who is now living in her own apartment and participating in HomeStart Supportive Housing.


Last year, Doorways provided support through the Domestic Violence Hotline to 1,157 calls—impacting 1,532 adults and children.

Our Safehouse is more than just a place to find shelter from domestic violence. It provides a spectrum of life-saving, supportive and educational services to help women and children leave behind a life of domestic violence and begin a new life of stability, dignity and self-sufficiency. The Safehouse is a nurturing, confidential and secure 11-bed home in which all residents—women and children—receive comprehensive services to help them heal and recover from trauma and move their lives forward. The Safehouse Program annually gives 80-100 women and children the safe haven they need. 


All adults receive individual weekly support from a Masters-level social worker.  Every resident participates in a Family Service Assessment, which creates a foundation for goal planning and services, including employment assistance, parenting education, financial planning, education enhancement, credit repair, the creation of a plan to transition clients to self-sufficient housing as well as emotional support. The children who live at the Doorways’ Safehouse also receive their own specialized services that support them and their parents with school enrollment, wellness checkups, emotional health, developmental assessments, tutoring assistance and access to recreational activities. All Safehouse residents engage in a weekly in-house support group that focuses on the healing process and recovery from unhealthy relationships.


In 2005, Safehouse clients returning to abusive partners was 15%. Today, it is only 1%! In order to keep our programs such a success we need people like you to help!


Doorways for Women and Families has seen a significant increase in calls to the Domestic Violence Hotline. Between the 2009 Fiscal Year and the 2010 Fiscal year there was a 23% increase and staff had to limit the use of the language services due to a decrease in funding.

Recent Doorways Fiscal Year Outcomes:

-302 adults and children served in residential programs

- 46% of clients were adults, 54% children

-ONLY 1% of clients returned to abusive partners

-96% of families met Family Stablization Goals


Thank you for supporting Doorways for Women and Families! During these challenging times we are looking to raise the much needed funds to support our services. We are so grateful that you chose to support us! We have made much progress in raising funds to support our language line.

We provide 24/7 shelter and housing through a Safehouse Shelter (11 beds), Family Home (21 beds), and HomeStart Supportive Housing Program serving 20 households at a time. We also provide support and advocacy, financial literacy, children’s services and a range of essential life skills promoting healthy, vibrant living. Doorways strives to end homelessness and family and intimate partner violence by offering safe shelter and housing, life-changing support services, and community advocacy. In the last year, Doorways served 256 parents and children in its three residential programs, and another 1,656 through our 24/7 domestic violence hotline and court advocacy services. Doorways conservatively estimates needing at least $15,000 in new funding is needed just to pay for telephone translation for our three core programs this year. We still have more to go!



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Organization Information

Doorways for Women and Families

Location: Arlington,, VA
Project Leader:
Lara Lukaszek
Arlington, VA United States

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