Education, Language and Culture Can Be Roadblocks for Domestic Violence Victims

DASH offers support, shelter to domestic violence survivors

Every ethnicity deals with domestic violence, but for women of color, education, language and culture may be roadblocks to getting help.

For domestic violence survivor “Elizabeth,” it started years ago with her father.

“He actually fist punched me on my face,” she said.

After numerous fights like that, she called police, left home and school, and started working to survive.

Years later, she met a man and had three children with him.

“Estaba ciega por amor,” she said. “I was blindsided with love.”

Then his “machismo,” an aggressive masculinity often talked about in Hispanic culture, surfaced just like it had with her dad.

Once he got so angry he broke things, Elizabeth said. The second time, he bit her. Then, after he hit her with the medal strap of a diaper bag, she’d had enough.

“No man needs to hit you in order to be loved,” she said.

With her three daughters – ages 3, 2 and 1 -- in tow, she scoured D.C. for safety and found it with the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH).

Recognizing the need for a safe place for survivors, Peg Hacskaylo started DASH 10 years ago.

“It really does impact marginalized communities much more greatly simply because they don’t have the resources to be able to help themselves, Hacskaylo said.

Among the many things DASH does to support survivors is emergency to temporary housing.

Forty-two other people and families like Elizabeth’s get an apartment rent-free for two years.

Elizabeth said many days are hard and she fights the feelings of depression, but she does it for her girls.

“I want this chain to be broken,” she said.

DASH gave her the safety to dream again, and she’s going to school to one day help others as an EMT.

“You’ll see other people in the same situation, and hopefully my story can help them escape domestic violence,” she said.

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