Services for Men, Women
Young males and adult men can be victims of sexual and domestic violence and stalking. National statistics indicate that as many as one in ten men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Domestic violence occurs at approximately the same rate in same-sex relationships as it does in heterosexual relationships.
The Sexual Assault Response and Awareness Program and the Domestic Violence Program provide the following services to men:
- Domestic Violence & Stalking: 703.746.4911
- Sexual Assault: 703.683.7273
Supportive Counseling and Therapy
Trained advocates and family services specialists provide counseling related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
Legal Advocacy and Court Accompaniment
Information about legal issues such as pre-trial meetings, protective orders, custody and child support, bond notification, crime victim's compensation and accompaniment services for survivors to assist with the court process.
Information and referrals to various sources of assistance in the Alexandria area including legal and social services, financial aid, housing, employment and child care.
Survivors of sexual and/or domestic violence and their loved ones can participate in various groups which are offered in-house or through partnering organizations.
Presentations are offered to community groups and civic organizations. Topics may include developing healthy relationships, sexual and domestic violence, stalking, violence in the workplace, sexual harassment and teen pregnancy prevention information for parents.
Services for Women
- Domestic Violence & Stalking: 703.746.4911
- Sexual Assault: 703.683.7273
Battered Women's Shelter: The shelter provides emergency housing and food at a confidential location for Alexandria women and their children who have been abused or who are threatened with abuse. Emergency shelter for your family pet is also available through our partnership with the Alexandria Animal Welfare League.
Community Education: Presentations are offered on a variety of topics including, assertiveness, conflict resolution, developing healthy relationships, domestic violence, stalking, financial management, employment services, sexual assault, sexual harassment and teen pregnancy prevention information for parents.
Counseling: Counseling related to Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking. An advocate can also help you make a safety plan.
Court Advocacy: Information about legal issues such as pre-trial meetings, protective orders, custody and child support, bond notification, crime victim's compensation and accompaniment services for survivors to assist with the court process.
Employment Services: Assistance offered in resume writing, interviewing and career counseling.
Referral Services: Information and referrals to various sources of assistance in the Alexandria area including legal and social services, financial aid, housing, employment and child care.
Services for Youth
You have the right to expect respect. No one has the right to hurt you! Everyone has the right to healthy relationships that are free from physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse. If you or a friend are a victim of abuse, know that you are not alone. We are here to help you! If you would like to talk to one of our counselors confidentially (you do not have to give your name or identifying information), please call one of our hotlines. They are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist you. For non-emergencies only, please text the word SEX to 30644. We will respond to your inquiry within 24 hours.
Domestic Violence Hotline 703.838.4911
Sexual Assault Response and Awareness Hotline 703.683.7273
Get the Facts...About Healthy Relationships
A Healthy Relationship is Based upon Respect for Each Other - People in healthy relationships respect each other's differences and their right to say no. Respect means that partners can set boundaries with each other physically, emotionally and sexually. Each person has a right to say how he/she wants to be treated and expect the other person to respect that boundary.
- A Healthy Relationship Means Each Partner Can Talk Openly - People in healthy relationships can talk to each other about anything and know that they will be heard. They can listen and understand each other and they are not afraid to say what they think and why they think that way. They like to hear how their partner thinks, and they don't always have to agree. Good communication means that each person can speak up for themselves without feeling scared about how their partner will react to it.
- A Healthy Relationship Means Each Partner Has Equal Rights - People in healthy relationships each have equal rights to speak up for what they need and want from each other. Decisions are made together, and neither person sets rules for what the other can or cannot do, like not allowing their partner to talk to other friends, go to parties or hang out with other people. Both partners in the relationship trust, believe and respect each other.
- A Healthy Relationship is Based upon Trust and Commitment - If you and your partner have respect for each other, talk openly, and share equal rights in the relationship, you will probably feel good about who you are and feel comfortable in the relationship. Your partner probably likes your friends and encourages you to spend time with them, and understands when you do that it's okay if you do not spend all your time with him/her.
Your Dating Rights - Each dating partner has the right to:
- Be treated with respect
- Ask for what they want
- Be accepted for who they are
- Feel safe
- Say no
- Talk openly
- Make their own decisions
- Not be forced to do anything
- Be treated equally
- Have fun
Get the Facts...About Dating Violence
"The person I'm going out with scares me sometimes."
What is Dating Violence?
Dating violence is controlling, abusive, and aggressive behavior in a romantic relationship. It can happen in straight or gay relationships. It can include verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, or in a combination.
Controlling behavior includes:
- Not letting you hang out with your friends
- Calling or paging you all the time to find out where you are, who you're with, and what you're doing
- Telling you what to wear
- Having to be with you all the time
- Checking your cell phone for who's calling you and who you have called
Verbal and emotional abuse includes:
- Calling you names
- Belittling you (cutting you down)
- Threatening to hurt you, someone in your family or that you care about, your pets, or themselves if you don't do what they want
Physical abuse includes:
- Punching walls
- Hair pulling
- Squeezing your arms
- Harming animals
- Sexual Abuse (see "Facts about Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault")
If you are a victim of dating violence, you might…
- Think it's your fault.
- Feel angry, sad, lonely, depressed or confused.
- Feel you are the only one to love or understand this person and don't want to leave them.
- Feel helpless to change the way your partner behaves.
- Feel threatened by your partner's reactions.
- Feel humiliated.
- Feel anxious, not knowing what might happen next.
- Feel like you can't talk to family and friends for fear of their reaction or the abuser's reaction.
- Be afraid of getting hurt more seriously.
- Feel protective of your boyfriend/girlfriend.
You Are Not Alone
- 1 in 3 teenagers has experienced violence in a dating relationship.
- 50 % to 80 % of teens have reported knowing others who were involved in violent relationships.
- 15 % of teen girls and boys have reported being victims of severe dating violence (defined as being hit, thrown down, or attacked with a weapon).
- 8 % of 8th- and 9th-grade students have reported being victims of sexual dating violence.
- Young women, ages 16 to 24 years, experience the highest rates of relationship violence.
- Being a victim of dating violence is not your fault. Nothing you say, wear, or do gives anyone the right to hurt you.
- If you think you are in an abusive relationship, get help immediately. Don't keep your concerns to yourself.
- Talk to someone you trust like a parent, teacher, school principal, counselor, or nurse.
- If you want help deciding who to talk to, call our anonymous crisis line 703.746.4911. You might also want to talk to a trusted family member, a friend's parent, an adult neighbor or friend, an older sibling or cousin, or other experienced person whom you trust.
- Please consider calling the Domestic Violence Hotline at 703.746.4911. One of our counselors would be happy to discuss your situation without you having to give us your name. Otherwise, brainstorm ways you can be safer. This means thinking about what to do, where to go for help, and who to call ahead of time. Who can you call?
- Who will help you?
- How will you escape a violent situation?
Help Someone Else
- If you know someone who might be in an abusive relationship, you can help.
- Tell the person that you are worried.
- Be a good listener.
- Offer your friendship and support.
- Ask how you can help.
- Encourage your friend to seek help.
- Educate yourself about dating violence and healthy relationships. Avoid any confrontations with the abuser. This could be dangerous for you and your friend.
Domestic Violence 24-Hour Confidential Hotline: 703.746.4911
Get the Facts...About Sexual Harassment
Sexual Harassment: What is it?
Sexual Harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behavior. It can be verbal, visual or physical contact of a sexual nature. It may happen once or many times.
Examples of sexual harassment include:
- graffiti of a sexual nature
- spreading sexual rumors
- rubbing against a person
- telling sexually offensive jokes
- making rude gestures or noises
- displaying sexual pictures or magazines
- making comments about someone's clothing or body
- questioning or commenting on someone's sexuality
- touching, pinching or grabbing body parts
- repeatedly asking out someone out who has said no
- pressuring someone for a date
- indecent exposures
Flirting vs. Sexual Harassment: What is the difference between them?
It is natural to want to get someone's attention. It is not alright to cause someone to feel embarrassed, ashamed or uncomfortable. Some of the differences include:
Some types of sexual harassment are sexual abuse.
Frequently Asked Questions about Sexual Harassment
What if I don't say "no" to the behavior? Is it still harassment?
Acts of sexual harassment are often embarrassing or frightening to the individual. You may be afraid to speak up. Others believe if they ignore the actions the sexual harassment will stop. When the behavior is ignored the harasser often thinks the harassment is acceptable. So the behavior continues or escalates.
If I see sexual harassment, what should I do?
If you feel uncomfortable, even if the person the action is directed towards is not offended, it is sexual harassment. You can tell the person you feel uncomfortable with their actions, you can speak with an adult you trust and ask their help, you can call the Sexual Assault Hotline at 703.683.7273, or text the word SEX to 30644.
If I am sexually harassed, what can I do?
- Don't blame yourself.
- Tell someone; and keep telling until they help you.
- Tell the harasser to stop; that you don't like their actions.
- Keep a written record of all incidents in case you decide to make a report.
If you are sexually harassed, you may feel a wide range of emotions, including:
- inability to trust people
You may even experience a change in your sleeping or eating habits or daily routine. You may withdraw from others in an effort to avoid threatening situations.
Healthy Relationships are free from physical, emotional, mental and sexual abuse.
Get the Facts About ...Sexual Assault
Sexual Abuse: What is it?
Sexual assault is any forced sexual activity with a person without his or her consent. It includes any kind of sexual behavior.Sexual Abuse is a way of using sex as a weapon to gain power.
It is never the victim's fault! Sexual Assault is a crime of violence, power and control.
FACT: 1 in 4 girls & 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.
Examples of sexual abuse include:
- forced vaginal, oral or anal sex
- childhood sexual abuse
- sexual harassment
- indecent exposure
- peeping Toms
- obscene phone calls
Frequently Asked Questions about sexual abuse:
Who can be a Victim?
Anyone, regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status can be sexually assaulted.
Can I tell if someone is a rapist?
- People who assault others do not look different from other people.
- 80% of victims are sexually assaulted by people they know.
- Only 20 % of victims are assaulted by strangers.
Does anyone "ask for it?"
It is the rapist who decides to hurt someone - no one "asks" or deserves to be raped. No matter what a persons wears or how that person acts, it is never the victim's fault.
If I am sexually assaulted ~ What should I do?
- Get to safe place.
- You can call the police; you can file a report, and press charges. If you choose to report, try not to wash, shower, brush your teeth or hair (it may be useful evidence).
- You can seek medical care. There may be injuries that you don't know about.
- Seek emotional support.
- Call a friend, parent or relative.
- Call the SARA Program Hotline at 703.683.7273.
If my friend is sexually assaulted ~ How can I help?
- Believe her or him.
- Listen without judging.
- Provide comfort and support.
- Remind her or him that it was not their fault, no matter what.
- Encourage them to seek medical attention.
- Suggest they get help from a sexual assault crisis center or a trusted adult.
How might a victim of sexual abuse feel?
Victims may be unable to sleep, eat or concentrate. They may also over eat, sleep excessively or want to be alone.
How can I help?
- When dating, respect your date's wishes.
- Warn your friends about bullies.
- Remember, alcohol is not an excuse for violence.
- Realize "no" really means "no," not "try harder" or "yes".
Remember: It is never the victim's fault!
How to Help Yourself
If you think you have been a victim of abuse:
- Tell a Trusted Friend or Adult
Tell people you can trust and talk with them about what has happened to you. Reach out for support from your friends or family members and ask them to help you decide what you should do next.
- Do Not Blame Yourself
Victims of abuse often blame themselves for what has happened to them. Any kind of physical, verbal, sexual, or emotional abuse can make you feel trapped, confused, helpless, frustrated, embarrassed or scared. Remember, you are not at fault for being abused. You cannot make someone hurt you, they choose to do it!
- Keep a Written Record of the Abuse
Keeping a written record of when and where the abuse occurred, who did it, who else might have seen it, and how you felt about it can help if it is reported to the police.
- Develop a Plan to Stay Safe
If you are ending a relationship because of abuse, you could still be at risk of harm. If threats of further harm are made, take them seriously and report them to the police. Change your daily schedule if you need to avoid contact with the abuser. Use the buddy system and make sure trusted adults are helping you create a plan to stay safe.
- Seek Out Help from the Department of Community and Human Services
We are here to help! We provide free, confidential counseling, advice, support and information to people of all ages on our 24-hour telephone hotlines, available seven days a week. You do not have to give your name or any other information to speak to one of our counselors. They will listen to you, believe you and provide help if you want it.
How to Help a Family Member or Friend
If you know someone who is a victim of abuse
- Believe what they tell you
Survivors of abuse are often embarrassed and may have a difficult time talking about their experiences. It is highly unlikely that a victim will make up a story about being abused; it occurs in less than five percent of all cases. It is far more common that a victim will deny or minimize what has happened to them. Let them know you believe them.
- Support them in the Crisis
Be as calm as possible, and do not blame or judge the victim. All feelings are valid and you can let the victim know that whatever he/she feels (anger, sadness, confusion, frustration), it is ok. Tell the victim you are grateful that he/she took the first step to tell somebody, and let the victim know that they are not alone and it is not their fault. Help them develop a plan to stay safe and protect themselves from further abuse.
- Empower them During the Crisis
Victims of abuse often feel like they have no power to do anything to help themselves. You can listen to their concerns and fears and let them know they do have choices. Encourage them to get help and maintain their trust by keeping the information confidential.
- Refer them to Services
Tell them where they can go for help, like calling one of our hotlines or getting in contact with counselors who can talk to them about their experiences. Do not make promises that may not happen, like stating that things will get “better” soon or that once the abuse is reported it will be over. Make sure you do tell them you will help them while they are going through the crisis.
How We Can Help
Resources on the Web
The Alexandria Office on Women has many resources to help you if you have been a victim of dating violence, sexual harassment, or sexual assault. Our services are free of charge to teens that live in Alexandria.
Call Our 24-hour Hotlines
If you have a question, concern, or just need to talk, please call our telephone hotlines. Counselors are here to listen and help you! You do not have to give your name or any other identifying information to talk to one of our counselors.
- Domestic Violence & Stalking: 703.746.4911
- Sexual Assault: 703.683.7273
- Text Message Hotline: Text the word SEX to 30644
(Text Messages are for Non-Emergency Questions only and will be answered within 24 hours)
We provide counseling related to Domestic Violence, Teen Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking.
Get Help through the Court Process
Our staff can provide information about legal options and accompany survivors through the court process.
Host Presentations for Your Youth Group
Our staff offers presentations about addressing conflict, developing healthy relationships, and dealing with domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, sexual harassment and teen pregnancy prevention. To arrange for presentations, please call 703.746.5030.
Participate in Adolescent Mentoring Groups
Project STEPOUT is a program that provides adolescent girls with information and skills to take control of their lives in a responsible manner in order to become productive citizens. Leadership and support for the program is provided by program staff and the community.
Participate in Unequal Partners
Unequal Partners is a multi-session curriculum based project that is offered to middle and high school aged Latino youth in the City of Alexandria. The curriculum was developed in response to emerging research indicating that a large number of adolescent pregnancies and births involved men older than twenty. This curriculum provides a pro-active approach to educating young people, both females and males, about relationships – particularly about power and consent in sexual relationships. The lessons are designed to teach the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to develop healthy relationships and to avoid unhealthy ones. The six-week program is currently being offered at apartment complexes, rec centers, libraries and at other agencies throughout the City of Alexandria. For more information, call 703.746.5030.
Get Involved with the Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy
The Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy (ACAP) is dedicated to reducing the local rate of teen pregnancy. Founded on the belief that parents, families and teens themselves play a critical role in preventing teen pregnancy, ACAP focuses on positive, holistic solutions that help teens follow their dreams. Teen pregnancy is a problem that can be reversed through personal empowerment and self-respect. For more information, please go to the web site, keepit360.org, or call ACAP at 703.746.5030.
Resources on the Web
Check out these web sites for more great information on how teens can build healthy relationships, get help if they have been abused, or help others who have been victims.
- National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center
- Domestic Violence Help Guide
Domestic Violence Resource Library
- "On Dating Smart"
- Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy
- National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
- "Sex, Etc." - A site by teens, for teens
- "Dating Violence"
"Kid's Health" - About Abusive Relationships
- The National Center for Victims of Crime
- National Sexual Assault Online Hotline
"Stop It Now!" The Campaign to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse