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Advocacy group gets empowering new name
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Date published: 6/4/2012
Patricia first heard about the Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence eight years ago after her husband threw her down a flight of stairs, nearly killing her.
At first she didn't want to talk about the abuse she'd suffered for most of her 27-year marriage. But during court appearances, she'd shake and be sick to her stomach, so at the urging of a victim's advocate, she agreed to attend an RCDV support group.
"For two months, I just sat there. I said, 'I'm not telling people my business,'" said Patricia, who asked us not to use her last name because her ex-husband is now out of prison. "Then, one day, I started telling my story, and I haven't stopped since."
Thousands of abuse survivors like Patricia have built new lives for themselves with help from the RCDV.
Now the nonprofit, founded in 1978, has a new name that reflects the help it provides: Empowerhouse.
Patricia, who has volunteered with the organization for years, was part of the committee that suggested the new identity.
"As a survivor, I felt like my husband took my power away. I wanted to go to a place to get it back," she said. "I felt like power was something I lacked, something I never thought about losing but I'd lost it--the power to control my life."
CONVEYING THE POSITIVE
The search for a contemporary identity began in earnest last fall when the organization moved from its cramped quarters on U.S. 17 into the former Heartland Bank building at U.S. 1 and Harrison Road in Spotsylvania.
Before putting new signs on the building, a marketing committee wanted to find out how attached supporters were to the name "Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence."
Donors, volunteers, staff members and clients raved about the organization's services, which range from counseling victims and providing emergency shelter to offering court advocacy and intervention programs for abusers.
But they weren't in love with the vaguely bureaucratic name or its acronym. And when the committee approached people who weren't connected with the nonprofit, they found that RCDV didn't have much name recognition.
"When we talked to people, what it came right down to was the name was confusing," said Cathy Davis, a board member and chairwoman of the marketing committee. "We needed a name that conveys all the positive things we do for women, men and children."
Empowerhouse, formerly known as the Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence, provides free, confidential services--including housing assistance, emergency shelter, counseling and court advocacy--to victims in Fredericksburg, Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford.
The organization operates a 24-hour hotline at 540/373-9373 or toll-free at 877/734-7238.
For more information, visit
Professional storyteller Megan Hicks will perform "Gutsy Broads: Stories About Strong Women" as a fundraiser for Empowerhouse. The event takes place on June 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Read All Over Books, 307 William St., in Fredericksburg.
General admission tickets cost $25, and for $100, sponsors can get a reserved seat and a shout-out in the program.
Tickets are available at Read All Over and at Riverby Books, 805 Caroline St.; LibertyTown, 916 Liberty St.; and Empowerhouse, 4700 Harrison Road. For more information, call Empowerhouse at 540/373-9372.