A rally to end domestic violence in the District drew large crowds as organizers, presenters and others touted sobering statistics they hope resonate with everyone.
The DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in collaboration with Asian/Pacific Island Domestic Violence Resource Project, DC SAFE, District Alliance for Safe Housing, DV Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project and House of Ruth, hosted “Balance for Better: A DC Free from Domestic Violence” in honor of International Women’s Day on Thursday, March 7.
Officials said 39 percent of women in the District will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. They urged everyone that “it’s time to stand with survivors. It’s time to balance for better.”
“We know it is impossible to have a balanced society when such a large portion of our community experiences domestic violence,” said Koube Ngaaje, executive director of DASH. “Now is the time for action; we are calling on District leadership to make ending domestic violence in DC a priority.”
Further, 50 percent of women in D.C. have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner and “everyone should feel safe, loved, and respected in their relationship, but these statistics do not reflect that,” Ngaaje said, adding that an increased budget is the first step in providing better resources and programs for survivors of domestic violence.
The rally featured speakers from various local domestic violence programs and other local advocacy groups each calling on Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. Council to take a firm stand against domestic violence and prioritize the issue in the city.
The District’s leadership are critical players in meeting the safety needs of all survivors and ending domestic violence for good, officials said.
“It is going to require many individuals and voices to bring greater awareness of this vital issue to the forefront of our city agenda,” said Lee Ann De Reus, executive director of DV LEAP. “Everyone plays a part in ensuring safe relationships and safe resources for survivors in DC One way you can help is by joining us to make sure survivor voices are heard.”
Earlier this year, Bowser implemented a policy to protect city employees who are victims or survivors of domestic abuse, stalking and sexual assault. The policy, which took effect on New Year’s Day, creates a workplace safety and support plan, designates an agency point of contact for victims and survivors, and it ensures confidentiality.
Additionally, the policy offers protections against employer discrimination or retaliation and outlines workplace-specific signs of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
Bowser said the policy would lead to increased training for D.C. government employees and will better equip employees to identify suspected abuse and direct victims and survivors to support resources.
“With this policy, we are taking another step to ensure that D.C. government is a place where all employees feel supported and safe,” Bowser said.