Stand against domestic violence

Published 10:22 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Young Women’s Christian Association of South Hampton Roads is participating in a fundraiser for October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Donations for the Purple Purse Challenge will be accepted by the community nonprofit until Oct. 25. Organized by the All State Foundation, the national campaign empowers domestic violence survivors with the resources they need to create better lives for themselves.

A $400 purple purse designed by tennis champion and campaign ambassador Serena Williams will be awarded to someone who donates $10 or more. Purple Purse Community Partners such as YWCA of South Hampton Roads nationwide will compete to raise the most money, with potential incentives of up to $100,000.

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Since the annual challenge began in 2014, nearly $5.5 million has been raised for hundreds of nonprofits nationwide.

“It’s an opportunity to engage with our constituency base beyond our signature events,” said Laura Boone, Director of Development for the YWCA South Hampton Roads. “It’s a nice tie-in that was pretty much made for us.”

The month is meant to illuminate the brutal reality facing those trapped in abusive relationships.

A woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds in the United States, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. These statistics show that one in three women and one in four men have been a victim of domestic violence, indiscriminate of race, sexual orientation or economic status.

Boone explained that abuse doesn’t always leave a physical mark. In some cases, victims are trapped in their situations because of financial dependencies, or because they otherwise lack the skills or training to start new lives.

“We do find that a lot of clients that come through our doors don’t have any money or financial resources,” she said. “It’s probably one of the biggest barriers that men and women that come through our doors have, so part of this program is to increase financial awareness and resources for these men and women.”

The South Hampton Roads chapter launched a 24-hour Coordinated Crisis Response hotline in October 2016 in collaboration with other regional organizations. About 800 calls have been made to the line each month since, President and Chief Executive Officer Mary Kate Andris stated in a press release.

The chapter responds to these cases with options that include rehousing programs, financial resources and workforce development. Counseling is provided for those in immediate danger — along with immediate security in a shelter — and for those that may not be in danger but still need assistance.

“You don’t have to be in imminent danger to get help,” Boone said. “There are other ways to get out, as opposed to waiting to the point where it gets so bad that you’re in imminent danger and you’re getting law enforcement involved.”

On Oct. 19, supporters like Boone will stand in solidarity on Awareness Day with purple clothing to show others that they can help, and to show victims that they can change their lives for the better.

“I’ve really noticed the impact that we make,” Boone said. “We’re helping men and women start over again, and I think that’s the biggest gift that we can give somebody.”

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