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EMPOWERMENT TOOKIT

For Survivors of Domestic Violence.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you need emergency support, safe placement, or to file for a temporary protection order, please call DC SAFE’s crisis hotline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (including holidays): 1 (800) 407-5048

In this toolkit, you will find information on victim legal rights in housing, employment, and other financial matters, as well as safety planning tips and information about our community partners.

If you have any questions, please call our Call-in Legal Clinic (202-425-7573) to speak with an Advocate about your legal rights, how to access our services, safety planning, crisis intervention, and referrals to community providers.

The information on this page does not constitute legal advice or the forming of an attorney-client relationship. 

FREE PDFS TO DOWNLOAD

All the information on this website is available to download here. Need a copy sent to you? Email ltaylor@dcvlp.org

YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS

As a domestic violence victim, you have legal rights and protections granted by federal and DC laws. This list is an overview of your rights and is not intended to be a complete list.

Civil Protection Order

You may be able to get a Civil Protection Order (CPO) if your abuser physically hurt, threatened to harm you, sexually assaulted, stalked you, destroyed your property or committed some other crime against you. You must live or work in DC OR at least one incident must have occurred in DC, and you AND your abuser must be connected/related in one of the following ways:

  • Have or have had a dating, romantic, or sexual relationship, or
  • Share a child, or 
  • Live or have lived together, or
  • Be related (although you can obtain a CPO against a stranger or acquaintance who has sexually assaulted or stalked you).

You may ask the judge to remove your abuser from the family home or grant you temporary custody of your children. To ask a court to order your abuser to stop abusing you, you will need to file a Petition for a Civil Protection Order. After filing your Petition the court will schedule your trial date to determine whether they will grant you a Civil Protection Order for 1 year. If your safety or welfare is immediately endangered, you can request a Temporary Protection Order that will protect you until your hearing date.

Immigration

You may be eligible for immigration relief regardless of the immigration status of your abuser or their willingness to help with the immigration process. If your abuser is in the U.S., you may be eligible for relief through the Violence Against Women Act, a U or T visa, or other relief option. If you fled your country because you suffered persecution based on your gender or other aspect of your identity, you may be eligible for an asylum claim.

Housing

Under the DC Protection from Discriminatory Evictions for Victims of Domestic Violence Amendment Act, you have rights to have your abuser removed from a Section 8 voucher or lease, to break your lease early to flee violence, to have your locks changed, and to be protected against eviction for experiencing a crime of domestic violence. You are also protected by the Violence Against Women Act (for public housing programs only) and the DC Human Rights Act from discrimination based on your status as a victim.   

Employment

Under the DC Employment Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Offenses, and Stalking Amendment Act of 2018, you have the right to request time off to participate in legal proceedings related to domestic violence and to request reasonable accommodations including but not limited to reassignment, a modified schedule, or the implementation of safety procedures. You are also protected from being fired from your job based on your status as a victim by the DC Human Rights Act. 

Visit the Office on Human Rights at www.ohr.dc.gov for more information on your rights and filing a complaint.

Tax Relief & Government Benefits

You may be eligible for tax relief (e.g., Innocent Spouse Waiver) if your spouse forced you to file a false tax form or filed without your knowledge. You are protected from discrimination based on your status as a victim by the DC Human Rights Act and cannot be denied access to government benefits, services, or programs because you are a victim. As a victim of a crime, you may have the right to crime victim compensation.

For more information or to file an application, visit: www.dccourts.gov/services/crime-victims-compensation-matters.

Criminal Proceedings Against Your Abuser

If you decide to pursue criminal charges against your abuser, you have rights protected by the federal Crime Victim’s Rights Act and by the DC Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights. This includes the right to be present at all proceedings, the right to provide your opinion on any plea bargain, the right to give a statement about the impact of the crime, and the right to have your privacy protected.

Talk to the prosecutor or visit: ovsjg.dc.gov/page/crime-victims-legal-rights for more information.

SAFETY PLANNING TIPS

Tips to help you take care.

In emergencies and through stressful times, it can be difficult to think and react clearly. Creating a safety plan in advance will ensure you have a system in place when you need it. Individualize your safety plan – You know yourself better than anyone.

Our Advocates can help you create an indivialized safety plan to fit your situation; this list below is common tips to keep in mind.

Have a Support System

Stay connected to family, friends, and online support groups you trust.

Gather Important Documents

Gather important documents: ID’s, social security cards, health insurance cards, immigration documents, birth certificate, Custody Order, Protection Order. Take pictures and make copies of them, and give them to trusted relatives and friends.

Have a Code Word

Establish code words with people you trust to signal you’re not safe and need help. Plan in advance what they should do if you tell them the code word.

Pack a Bag

If possible, prepare a bag with any essential items -documents, medication, car keys, cell phone, extra charger, list of phone numbers of people you trust, change of clothing.

Take care of yourself

You know your situation the best. Individualize your self care.

Exit Plan

Create an exit plan ahead of time: identify friends or relatives you trust and could support your needs.

COMMUNITY PARTNERS

Please review the information below for more information about services offered by DCVLP’s community partners.

Identity-Based Resources

Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project

  • Website: dvrp.org 
  • Telephone Numbers:
    • Office: 202-833-2232
    • Hotline: 202-833-2233 
  • Email: info@dvrp.org 

Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights 

Jewish Coalition Against  Domestic Abuse  

  • Website: jcada.org   
  • Telephone Numbers:
    • Office: 301-315-8040 
    • Helpline: 1-877-88- JCADA (52232)
  • Email: jcada@jcada.org 

The DC Center for the LGBT  Community 

  • Website: thedccenter.org  
  • Support Desk Telephone Number: 202-682-2245 
  • Support Desk Email: supportdesk@thedccenter.org

The Person Center (supports African immigrant victims)

The Safe Sisters Circle (supports Black women survivors in Wards 7 & 8 in DC)

  • Telephone Number: Call: 202-596-5206 | Text: 202-792-9509
  • Email: info@safesisterscircle.org

ElderSAFE (supports older survivors)

Adult Protective Services DC (supports older survivors)

  • Telephone Number: 202-541-3950

Legal Counsel for the Elderly (supports older survivors, 60+ years old)

  • Telephone Number: 202-434-2120, 9:30am to 3:30pm

 

Employment Resources

A Wider Circle – Workforce Development Program 

  • Website: awidercircle.org 
  • Telephone Numbers & Email:
    • For individual support and to participate in programming, email workforcedevelopment@awidercircle.org or call 301-608-3504
    • To set up an appointment to receive professional attire and accessories, please contact Alicia Donahoe at alicia@awidercircle.org

Suited for Change 

Jubilee Jobs

Catholic Charities Job Matching Services (DC)

Jubilee Jobs

Friendship Place – AimHire Job Placemnet 

Linguistic Resources

AYUDA Community Legal Interpreter Bank

Health + Emergency Assistance Resoures

Children’s National Medical Center

Community of Hope

  • Website: communityofhopedc.org
  • Telephone Numbers:
    • Office: 202-407-7747
    • 24-Hour Nurse Advice Line: 202-540-9857

DC Forensic Nurse Examiners Program

  • Visit Washington Hospital Center Emergency Room and request a domestic violence or sexual assault exam
  • DCFNE Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.dcfne.org/faq

Legal Assistance Resources

Victim Legal Network of DC (VLNDC)

  • Telephone: (202) 629-1788
  • Website: vlndc.org

DV Legal Empowerment & Appeals Project (DV LEAP)

DC Superior Court Domestic Violence Clerks Office (for CPO matters):

  • Telephone: 202-879-0157

DC Superior Court Family Law Self-Help Center (for custody and divorce matters):

  • Telephone: 202-879-1212

Housing Resources

Family transitional housing resources (DC Department of Human Services)

Single adults transitional housing resources (DC Department of Human Services)

District Alliance for Safe Housing

  • Website: dashdc.org
  • Telephone Number: 202-462-3274
  • Email: info@dashdc.org

LIFT-DC

My Sister’s Place

  • Website: mysistersplacedc.org
  • Telephone Numbers:
    • Washington, D.C.: 202-293-4580
    • Northern Virginia: 703-281-2657

Basic Needs Resources

A Wider Circle

  • Website: awidercircle.org
  • Telephone Numbers:
    • Center for Community Service (Main): 301-608-3504
    • Washington Highlands Community Center: 240-687-3639
    • Shaw Community Center: 301-532- 2297
  • Email:
    • Center for Community Service (Main): contact@awidercircle.org
    • Washington Highlands Community Center: partner@awidercircle.org
    • Shaw Community Center: awclw@awidercircle.org

Martha’s Table

  • Website: marthastable.org
  • Telephone Number: 202-328-6608
  • Email: info@marthastable.org

Mental Health Resources

My Sister’s Place 

  • Website: mysistersplacedc.org 
  • Telephone Number: 202-529-5261 
  • Email: info@mysystersplacedc.org 

The Women’s Center 

  • Website: thewomenscenter.org
  • Telephone Numbers:
    • Washington, D.C.: 202-293-4580
    • Northern Virgina: 703-281-2657