Domestic Violence and How You Can Help

After 3 days of speed work my legs are still recovering; I’m so glad that I have one more rest day before tomorrow’s 18 mile (EEK!) run. I’m going to try to get in some cycling tonight just to shake out my muscles.  I’m kind of nervous about running 18 miles, but I think I’m actually more excited then nervous.  This will be the furthest distance I’ve ever run.  I feel like I’m putting another notch in the proverbial belt.

Switching gears, (Hey, I’m female, I can change the subject at any given time w/o notice) I really want to talk about a cause that’s near and dear to me.  Domestic violence.  As many of you know, I work for a the Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Nonviolence which provides emergency & follow-up services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and also to family members of homicide victims.

Each year, millions of women and men suffer horrible violence at the hands of the ones they love.  Here are just a few  statistics on domestic violence and sexual assault (source):

  • 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime.  (Picture your mom, sister, daughter, grandmother.)
  • 1 in 25 men will be a victim of domestic violence in his lifetime.
  • Women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk of becoming a domestic violence victim.
  • The health-related costs of domestic violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year.
  • Every 2 minutes, someone in the US is raped.
  • 1 in 5 women will be raped in her lifetime.
  • 44% of rape victims are under 18, 80% under 30.

Shocked? I was too when I first got involved.  Domestic violence and sexual assault is often swept under the rug; it’s a topic people aren’t comfortable discussing.  Some even think that what goes on behind closed doors is no one else’s concern. Say, what? No one else’s concern?? If cruelty to animals is part of public concern, cruelty to people should be as well.

See, the thing about domestic violence and sexual assault is that they are crimes that don’t discriminate.  They don’t care if your rich or poor, black or white, male or female; it can happen to anyone! I have had every type of person imaginable walk through my office door.  But there is hope – yay!  Education is the key to prevention; we must talk about it.  Not just amongst ourselves or in hushed tones.  We need to scream about it from the rooftops how to spot the warning signs, how to help friends that may be trapped in a relationship, and how to take proper safety measures while out in public or at a party.  The amazing part is that we (you and I) possess the power to stop domestic violence by teaching the next generations.  We need to teach them to respect themselves, to foster positive self-esteem so they can have healthy relationships, and that it’s ok to leave a relationship at the first sign of trouble.  We will never be able to keep everyone from hurting others, but we can empower those that have been hurt.

Last year the Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Nonviolence provided over 16,000 nights of emergency shelter and 30,000+ meals to victims and their children.  We provided education & prevention presentations to almost 9,000 people and also 3000+ counseling sessions.  (Can you tell I’m sort of proud of where I work? Also, I have some amazing coworkers!)  Now it’s your turn to help! The Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Nonviolence has been nominated for a Chase Community Giving grant in the amount of $250,000 but we need your help to get it.

Going on right now, Chase is asking you to vote for the charity that should receive the grant.  The top charity receives $250,000 but Chase is generous enough to provide grants for 196 total charities in varying amounts starting at $10,000.  The Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Nonviolence is entirely nonprofit so we depend heavily on grants and donations to allow us to continue providing services to victims and their families.

To vote, either click on the Chase image above or click here and then cast your vote! Easy-peesy. It would really mean a lot to me (and the victims I serve) if you would take just a second to vote!  Every vote is a vote for a someone to live their life free from violence.

Question:  Do you have a cause that’s near and dear to your heart? Please tell me, I would love to hear about it!