Bethany House, Virginia — A One-Stop Divorce Shop

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The Equal Justice Foundation has received the following letter that is being published anonymously at the sender's request. It is our understanding that Bethany House has received a copy of this letter and a copy in PDF format is available by clicking here.


Note: The letter has been reformatted for presentation here, a few spelling errors corrected, and minor punctuation modifications made for clarity. In no case has wording or meaning been changed with the exception of the removal of one repeated sentence.


To: Health and Human Services, United Way of the National Capitol Area, National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, et alia,


Dear Sir/Madam,

I have been a volunteer worker at Bethany House of Northern Virginia, 5901 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, Virginia, a private non-profit so called battered women's shelter. I wish to remain anonymous for fear of personal and professional reprisals by my co-workers and the Bethany House staff.

In my experience working at the shelter I am appalled and outraged by what is really going on at Bethany House of Northern Virginia (BHNV). To put it bluntly, it is for most part nothing more than a "one stop divorce shop for emotional and bored housewives who want a change of life".

It is also largely used as a free hostel for women with emotional problems if they are willing to hate their husbands enough and are willing to take out protective orders against their husbands. Women who follow BHNV's agenda are guaranteed residency at the shelter for up to 7 months. All of this in the name of a Battered Women's shelter is sickening to disgust.

From my observations, the goal of Bethany House is to get bored and emotional housewives to leave their marital home after infuriating them with a heavy dose of husband bashing, anti-male talk, patriarchy, and negative motivation. This is carefully planned and executed by the Bethany House staff and volunteers. Simple tasks as cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of children are explained to the housewives as abusive and demeaning tasks forced upon them by their spouses.

Marital arguments are explained as serious verbal abuse. Occasional pushing and showing are explained as serious physical abuse. Decision-making is shown as emotional abuse. The staff and volunteers, through a network of sources, identify emotional housewives. With a series of pep talks, tests and evaluations, BHNV staffs make the wives and husbands incompatible, infuriate the wife with propaganda, and then exploit the wife's frustration and anger as retaliation against the husband. The wife is given verbal and written instructions on how to leave the house secretly for the BHNV shelter.

Bethany House system resources are geared to get the father charged with an offence and to make the mother look like the victim and the children ending up as helpless pawns in the abuse game manipulated by BHNV.

Women with almost no marital problems are declared abused and are coached by the staff to go to court and get a protective order against their husbands with the promise of long-term shelter, legal services, counseling at BHNV.

BHNV also uses scare tactics to get women to file a protective order. This is a gross abuse of a system that was designed for real battered women.

Most of the staff and volunteers at BHNV have a jaundiced view of marriage and men, and attach little importance to the role of fathers in children's lives.

A majority of these staff and volunteers are women who are themselves from broken marriages and failed relationships, enraged with a bottomless pit of anger at men.

Women, staff and volunteers at the shelter use foul language and spend a lot of time father bashing, husband bashing and hold group sessions to initiate the same feelings to new residents.

Bethany House is a terrible place, not the environment where children should be. Not even women.

A lot of Bethany House activities are carefully doctored and monitored and have to remain behind a "veil of secrecy."

The BHNV network with their legal services, sociologists, and psychiatrists practice a self-censorship. It's just a lot of radical feminists making biased judgements against fathers, husbands, and families.

BHNV has repeatedly lied to charities that they are a church and religious organization. Indeed they are located within the Culmore United Methodist Church complex. But all they do is rent space and have no connection with the Church.

BHNV has misrepresented and repeatedly lied to the United Way of the National Capitol Area regarding BHNV's position for several years.

In their United Way of the National Capitol Area CVC Code 8046 Charity Application form 2002, which I was involved in, I and other volunteers were told to outright lie and make it as family oriented as possible. According to the wording in the charity form in verbatim, which I quote below.

(a) "BHNV family assistance program for battered spouses and their children provides multiple interventions blended into a comprehensive family development/family strengthening plan."

(b) "Outreach staff work with each family to examine and alter behaviors, and to enhance each victim's capacity to exercise self-determination and autonomy."

(c) "Once stabilized, victims implement customized family strengthening strategies, accessing services and advocating for clients to ensure realization of each individual's"

I can vouch for the fact that none of the above statements presented to United Way 2002 charity are anywhere near truth. Their so-called family assistance program:

(a) excludes children, fathers, husbands and indeed family interests. And does exclude to a large part the self-determination and autonomy of the housewife they supposedly "rescue." It in fact represents BHNV's interests almost exclusively to the fullest extent possible.

(b) Outreach staff never work with families, neither do they make any attempt to alter behavior as they claim. They secretly meet with the wife and encourage her to pack up and leave with the children for the shelter and file a protective order against the father. This is almost always the rule — even if there was no abuse within the family. Outreach staff never assesses issues presented by the family. The father or any male member is never consulted in this case. Indeed the father is by default the abuser of the mother.

(c) There is no family strengthening strategies for the victims as they claim. By this time the poor housewife is converted into a victim by BHNV with no recourse but to depend on BHNV for her financial stability, the children are alienated from their father by a protective order BHNV helped the housewife achieve. The father is sued for child and spousal support with the legal help of BHNV. Not only does BHNV impoverish a family by breaking them apart, but legally and morally commits child abuse by removing children from their home and putting them in a shelter. Away from their school, friends, and other familiar activities.

I have spoken with several wives at BHNV who have deeply regretted having contacted BHNV and acting on BHNV's advice. They have all been told to outright lie and fabricate half-truths to distort. They have all taken out protective orders against their husbands in "the heat of the moment" at BHNV's suggestions and deeply regret destroying their marriage, family, husband and their children's future and "burning their boat" at any reconciliation much to their dismay.

I implore and beg your office to investigate and do something soon to stop this senseless break up of families and needless trauma to children. Please do something. The children of Fairfax County do not deserve this kind of cruelty, This is happening right under our very noses. Please do something now!

Thank you for your time.



Bethany House of Virginia, an abuse shelter out of control by Carey Roberts


© Carey Roberts

Reproduced under the Fair Use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.

March 3, 2009 — Bethany House of Northern Virginia (BHNV) is an abuse shelter that provides "warmth and shelter" to persons suffering from domestic violence — at least that's what the group claims. But now a former shelter worker, client, husband, and a sitting judge have all come forward to reveal a sordid tale of unethical and illegal conduct.

The first bombshell hit in 2004 when a former shelter volunteer filed a three-page letter of complaint (above). Alleging the staff was "enraged with a bottomless pit of anger at men," she charged the shelter admitted women who had never suffered physical abuse, indoctrinated them into feminist ideology, and then bribed them to commit perjury against their husbands.

"I have spoken with several wives at BHNV who have deeply regretted having contacted BHNV," the shelter worker concludes. The women "deeply regret destroying their marriage, family, husband, and their children's future." Her full complaint is posted above.

Then in 2007 a shelter client, Maria, charged she had been subjected to sexual advances by a shelter attorney. One day he showed up on her doorstep demanding money or sex for his pro bono work. In response, Bethany House issued a statement distancing itself from the whole affair — ahem, matter.

But the shelter then made this startling admission: "Our records do indicate allegations of abuse against social workers and volunteers who served the Bethany House since 1980." And then the bell-ringer: "Ms. Veronica and Ms. Liang were let go as house managers because of misconduct, misappropriation of Bethany House Funds, and complaints of inappropriate sexual advances against the shelter residents." (insert editorial exclamation mark here)

So who was Maria's alleged perp? Robert B. Machen.

Machen has a lengthy rap sheet, including three counts of obstruction of justice that landed him in jail for a year. Later he incurred a reprimand by the Virginia State Bar. And more.

The saddest story of all, though, involved a mentally-unstable woman named Valeria Jagannathan. In 2002 she went to Bethany House claiming to be a victim of physical violence at the hands of her husband Ron. A few months later the case went to court, with the judge ruling she in fact had not been abused. Noting her unfavorable living situation, the judge granted custody of their two daughters to the father.

Naturally the Bethany House staff were outraged — after all, women never lie about domestic violence. So over the next six years, the shelter provided the woman with a blank check to pursue her claim. And guess who her attorney was? If you guessed his initials are "RBM," you are correct!

First they debated the tactical value of a child sex abuse accusation. On August 18, 2002, a staff member faxed a clandestine instruction to Machen marked CONFIDENTIAL: "I am very sure Mrs. J is not interesting in bringing any sexual abuse of children allegations. She did not sound comfortable with such allegations. She has not followed your advice." So "I suggest you go to court with neglect and abuse charges," the employee urged.

Apparently that idea didn't pan out, so three weeks later shelter staff devised a new ploy: "Creating diversions might get Mr. Jagannathan to concede custody. A FBI or a police investigation might get his green card revoked," according to a September 8 secret communication to Machen.

And what "diversions" did they settle on? Well, why not accuse Jagannathan, a quiet-spoken defense contractor, of loading binders of secret government documents into a van and whisking them off to India! The claim proved so preposterous that a psychologist opined that she was likely having hallucinations suggestive of a severe psychiatric disorder.

When that charge fell apart, the shelter ginned up even more accusations. Eventually word spread to local judges who had no desire to see their courtrooms turned into a forum to spread a wild concoction of bizarre and lewd accusations.

So on January 8, 2009, Judge Charles Maxfield of Fairfax, Virginia, issued his ruling. The judge decried how the woman had filed a "diatribe of complaints about the integrity of Mr. Jagannathan," an action he termed "malicious." On the witness stand, "she perjured herself in this court" on three separate occasions. And the woman had even sued the psychologist for stating her behavior was consistent with "having paranoid delusions."

Commenting that Mr. Jagannathan had been subjected to "Kafkaesque litigation," the judge wagged the judicial finger at the woman's attorney, ruling the parents "be enjoined from allowing the children to have any contact with Robert Machen."

That was two months ago. But the shelter has yet to issue a statement of apology or remorse for the damage it caused to Mr. Jagannathan, his two daughters, or to Mrs. Jagannathan who needed to see a psychiatrist, not an abuse enabler.

The problems at Bethany House stretch back to the 1980s, and still there's no sign of progress. Maybe the Bethany House of Northern Virginia needs to hear from concerned citizens demanding these long-standing abuses come to a halt.


Bethany House of North Virginia

Telephone: 703-658-9500

Fax: 703-658-9522




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| Chapter 6 — Shelters For Battered Women |

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This site is supported and maintained by the Equal Justice Foundation.

Last modified 5/16/18