Domestic Violence Support Center 2012

The Domestic Violence Support Center, located in downtown Washington, DC, is the city's largest free counseling center for survivors of domestic violence. The skilled counselors work with roughly 400 women and children annually. One of the full-time counselors and a consulting therapist are trained in working with children. They work with the small number of children who accompany their mothers to the Support Center. Because domestic violence is so prevalent in the lives of the women who we serve, the counselors also go to many of our residential programs to provide counseling to the women living at House of Ruth.

In 2011, clients ranged in age from five to 70 years old. The women served at the Support Center are from all walks of life and diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds.

Individual counseling helps the women manage their immediate crisis, reduce anxiety, build cognitive skills, establish goals for the future, and experience feelings without impulsively acting on them. Women in individual counseling progress through a series of phases including engagement, assessment, understanding the effects of domestic violence, safety planning, development of coping mechanisms and working through feelings.

Domestic violence is often just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the issues that the counselors help their clients address. Carefully exploring each woman's life experience can reveal many instances of abuse extending back into childhood. Working with the expert counselors at the Support Center, the women come to understand the impact of abuse in their lives and develop new coping skills that allow them to function better in their daily lives.

Case management services are also provided. An individualized plan is developed with each woman focusing on her immediate safety, her mental health and addressing related issues. This plan then serves as a reference point for monitoring progress. Counselors help women gain access to critical resources for housing, employment, education and training, child care, legal issues, budgeting and safety planning. In addition, the Support Center staff reaches out to many other organizations that may come in contact with people who are dealing with domestic violence to acquaint them with the supports and services available at House of Ruth.

Your donations open the door to expert counseling at the Domestic Violence Support Center. Here, some 400 women and children annually receive the expert counseling and compassionate care they need to recover from the damage of domestic violence and help ensure that they are not abused in the future.

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