During the time it will take you to read this blog post, 5 women will be affected by domestic violence – that’s 145 people every hour. Sadly, 1 in 4 women will be affected during their lifetime.
As for myself, I have never been abused. My mom was. She was abused by my father. We lived in Amman, Jordan. My dad was a gambler and drank a lot. Being an Arab, I think that’s how he was raised. After years of going through that, my mom did not want her daughters to live in a violent household. The only way she could stop it was to escape. She convinced my dad to let her visit my grandma her in El Paso, Texas. She filed for divorce and never returned to Jordan. My dad followed us. He didn’t want to be without his daughters. He accepted the divorce and stayed to watch us grow. I’m thankful that I don’t remember the violence that took place in Jordan. But I know it is what makes me a strong woman. I never will let anyone lay a hurtful hand on me.
This month, the YWCA USA and the Allstate Foundation have joined forces to break the silence and raise awareness about domestic violence by launching a new campaign designed to spur conversation and make it easier to talk about the issue. Based on long-term commitment to helping empower women economically to end domestic violence, the campaign encourages individuals to spread the story of the Purple Purse – the Foundation’s new national symbol for domestic violence.
To kick off the campaign, The Allstate Foundation and YWCA, along with top bloggers, are organizing TweetUps at YWCAs in nine cities across the country, including Birmingham, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, El Paso, Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, and Tucson. These events are designed to explain the story behind the Purple Purse, share information about the issue and encourage individuals to help spread the word about the campaign. TweetUp attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from a domestic violence survivor at each event. As an additional incentive to inspire more people to get involved, The Allstate Foundation will donate $100 for each TweetUp attendee, up to $10,000 at each event, totaling a $90,000 contribution to the YWCA.
Thursday, October 20, was the big day. After promotion and research about domestic violence through my blog, the time had finally arrived.
I got there a couple of minutes late. (Yes, I was lost.) It was fine though. The event had not begun yet. Everyone was still getting their refreshments. They offered a couple kinds of pastries, fresh fruit, orange juice, and starbucks coffee. I went for the fruit and orange juice. I didn’t want to be more wired than I already was. I wasn’t nervous. I was just excited for the event.
There was such a diverse crowd. There were high school students, doctors office employees, city of El Paso employees, UTEP staff and students among others. The residents of Independent house were volunteering their time. They are survivors of domestic violence and now are moving on with their lives with the help of the YWCA.
Attendees were given a purple purse bag. It came with a stain remover stick that said on it “clean up your finances, leave abuse behind” and information about the Allstate foundation.
Dr. Sandra E. Braham was the first speaker. She is the Chief Executive Officer for the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region. She welcomed everyone to the event and spoke a little bit about the survivor who was going to share her story. She is someone who she has worked with, so she was surprised to learn she had been a victim of domestic violence.
Her name is Terri. Here is the video. I think it is much more meaningful seeing it, than me writing about what I saw.
Everyone was moved to tears. She received a standing ovation that was well deserved. After that, I thought we were done. But no. Dr. Sandra called me out. She asked me to speak about my blog and how I became involved in this event. My heart wanted to pound out of my chest. I carefully got up, tried not to trip flat on my face, and made it to the podium.
I introduced myself. Told them how my blog started through my weight loss and how I wanted to share recipes and weight loss tips with others. I talked about the e-mail I received to join in promoting this event through my blog. I wish I would have been more prepared. But I had a great time. I learned so much about how to help someone going through this ordeal. We reached our 100 attendees. I hope in the future, I can be a part of more events like this in my community.
If you or someone you know is dealing with this type of situation, www.purplepurse.com or the YWCA can help. There are organizations and friends willing to help.
Disclaimer: Allstate and the YWCA asked for me to promote this event through my blog. I was not compensated. As always, these opinions are my own.