By Sydney Franklin
Most people link October with breast cancer awareness. Few note that this month is also dedicated to raising awareness about domestic violence. My Sister’s Place (MSP), the District’s oldest domestic violence shelter, is using October to inform the public about the prevalence of the problem.
Thanks to a partnership between MSP, the D.C. Department of Human Services and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, posters displayed in buses and metro stations throughout the city will let commuters know that help is available for those experiencing domestic violence.
“You are not alone. We can help,” read the public service announcements, which include the telephone number for MSP’s emergency 24-hour hotline: (202) 529-5991.
The problem is not rare, organizers of the awareness campaign note. In the District, one emergency call every 17 minutes concerns domestic violence.
“It is a dire public health issue that affects one in four women,” said MSP’s Executive Director Lauren Vaughan. “We want to provide information and hope to victims, who are living in fear and desperation and we want to let them know there is free and confidential help.”
Since getting its start in 1979 with 15 emergency shelter beds and a goal of helping women regain control of their lives, MSP has continued to grow and expand. The nonprofit now offers a range of services, everything from the confidential 24-hour hotline to transitional-to-permanent housing, children’s programming, counseling and case-management.
In addition, MSP recently expanded its capacity as a confidential emergency shelter with its Sanctuary Plus initiative, serving up to 15 families with 45 shelter beds. In its 9,000-square-foot facility, families are provided a safe and secure environment, and help in rebuilding their lives.
In other events marking Domestic Violence Awareness Month, MSP will be hosting an Oct 10 fundraiser called Power of the Purse, a silent auction of luxury handbags and accessories. And a display called the Clothesline Project will take place on the National Mall from Oct. 28-31. Families in the shelter will decorate T-shirts symbolizing their struggles and hopes for a better future. For more information, visit mysistersplacedc.org.