By Leslyn Barrow
, Housing and Human Services
| To report a crime, call the City of Falls Church Police Department at 703-248-5053 or, for emergencies, please call 911.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any form of domestic violence, and you want to talk about options and resources available, call the 24-hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline at 703-360-7273.
Another resource for anonymous, confidential help that is available 24/7 is the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The statistics are staggering: 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime (according tot the CDC
). Housing and Human Services wants you to know the signs and learn how to get help for yourself or a loved one.
Domestic violence is a pattern of physically, sexually, verbally and/or emotionally abusive behaviors used by one individual to assert power or maintain control over another in the context of an intimate or family relationship such as dating relationships, significant others, married couples, parent(s) and child(ren) and caregiver relationships.
Is hitting the only form of domestic violence?
No. Emotional abuse is part of domestic violence which can include criticism, humiliation, threats, name-calling, isolation, mind games, making you feel crazy, threatening, controlling the money, holding you hostage, using disability against you, using family members against you, making you feel ashamed, the silent treatment, threatening to harms your pet(s).
It is important to know a few facts and that no one deserves to be abused in any way.
The intent of emotional abuse is to destroy the victim’s self-respect and feeling of self-worth. The emotional abuse is often disguised as a way of “teaching you to be a better person.” Many experts believe the emotional abuse may have longer-lasting effects than physical abuse. Emotional abuse often leads to poor health, fearfulness, feeling tired, tense or anxious, physically and emotionally drained, alone, etc.
What a healthy relationship looks like.
A healthy relationship is one in which both partners are able to express feelings, neither partner is abusing or being abused by the other, encourages positive values, have the other person’s interests at heart, share basic values, mutual respect, forgiveness, intimacy, honest communication, empathy, shared responsibilities, trust and support, effort and commitment, fidelity, etc.
Emotional abuse could be a precursor to physical abuse.
Someone who abuses you emotionally is trying to keep control over you. They are trying to keep you from having power or controls in your own life. Once an emotional abuser can no longer maintain control with words, it is a possibility that person will escalate to using physical abuse.
Physical Abuse can happen to minors, one partner by another, the elderly, a woman, or a man of any race, ethnicity, age, income, religion or sexual orientation. If you are being abused or are worried about someone you know who is being abuse there is help.
Find support by talking to others whom you think might listen, understand, and support you. If it is safe to do so, talk to family, friends, religious leaders, or counselors.
There are domestic violence laws in Virginia
There are a number of criminal and civil laws in Virginia to protect victims of domestic violence. A person who threatens physical violence or commits an act of assault and battery against a family or household member, an act of stalking, or a sexual offense is subject to criminal prosecution.
Protective orders are available to victims of family abuse, stalking, sexual battery, aggravated sexual battery, or serious bodily injury.
How to get help.
- An Emergency Protective Order (EPO) may be issued by a judge or magistrate for up to three days to protect the immediate health and safety of a victim. Request information and an EPO by calling 703-228-7900 or 703-228-4500 Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court.
- A Preliminary Protective Order (PPO) lasts up to 15 days and may order the abuser to stop abusive or threatening behaviors and possibly leave a shared residence. Request information and a PPO by calling Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court at 703-228-4500 before expiration of EPO.
- A "Final" Protective Order can be issued by a judge for up to 2 years and may contain a number of provisions to protect a victim and his or her children.
Help is available to victims of domestic violence from a number of agencies and organizations.
- A local domestic violence program can provide you with support, information, and/or safe shelter for you and your children. The program can also assist you with safety planning and may also provide an advocate to go with you to court.
- A local legal aid program may be able to offer you legal assistance or information on protective order, custody, visitation, or divorce matters, as well as immigration issues. Legal Services of Northern Virginia; 703-778-6800.
- Arlington County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Services can assist you in completing the necessary forms for protective orders and provide you additional information on court procedures by calling 703-228-4500.
If you need additional information, please call Housing and Human Services at 703-248-5005 (TTY 711), or visit the City of Falls Church Domestic Violence Services website
For events pertaining to Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), please visit the Fairfax County Office for Women DVAM website