Monday, November 14, 2016

Make Each Minute Count

Saratoga Today reporter, Tom Dimopoulos, and I spoke recently about Wellspring's  work. Throughout our conversation  I talked  about our emphasis on prevention and early intervention. Our best hope for the future is that our shelter is empty and our hotline never rings... because we've ended relationship and sexual abuse. We're on the path, but we're not there yet. Our hotline answers ~1,400 calls each year, our shelter is almost always full, and our counselors see a steady stream of men and women  who have experienced abuse.
Dimopolous wrote about his conversation with, Tina,  a domestic violence survivor who had utilized Wellspring's services. Her story echoed the words we hear so often from survivors:
  • Tina endured decades of abuse before seeking help
  • Financial instability prevented Tina from leaving and her partner's economic abuse threatened her custody of her children.
  • Tina kept hoping that if she tried harder the abuse would end, "It took me a long time to realize I couldn't fix him, that my love couldn't carry it through."
  • Remaining in the abuse, Tina felt hopeless and desperate, "The psychological effect...spun me into a dark, life-threatening world of depression. I was in a state of turmoil and didn't know what to do."
By chance Tina happened upon Wellspring, called and began to forge a new life without abuse, "Immediately I felt there was a glimmer of hope."

So many people wait to seek help until a crisis forces action. Why?
  •  Sometimes they don't identify what they are experiencing as domestic violence, especially if they are not physically abused.  Emotional abuse, financial control, social isolation and sexual coercion are all forms of domestic violence.
  • Often they love the person, don't want to leave him/her... they just want the abuse to end. They think if they try harder it will stop. Domestic violence is a pattern of power and control... the behaviors are a choice the abuser makes.
  • They see so many obstacles that they can't even contemplate leaving. Wellspring offers a range of support services, e.g., emergency shelter, legal advocacy, subsidized housing, and employment assistance. Talk to us about your concerns; like Tina, you too may immediately feel a glimmer of hope for the first time.
Tina's story of hope, healing and transcendence is inspiring... but I also hear such regret that she endured 22 years of abuse, before seeking the help where she can now say, "Wellspring gave me a new lease on life and I'm going to take full advantage of it...I don't take for granted one minute of my life.
I'm so grateful that she's reached a point where she has power and joy in every minute of her life. I regret that she endured 22 years of abuse-- that's more than 11 million minutes of her life overshadowed by domestic violence-  before  she found the support to help her escape.

If you or someone you know is experiencing relationship or sexual abuse, call Wellspring. Cherish every minute of your life.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

When's the right time ot talk about consent?

Wellspring prevention educators spend a lot of time talking to high school and college students about consent. We're discussing consent in the context of dating relationships, but there's no reason to wait so long to talk to youth about consent... and in fact, it's much easier to practice the concepts with less emotionally charged situations than dating or sexual encounters.

I love that this comic  humorously demonstrates that it's never too early to talk to kids about consent. Illustrator Chris Brady explains how this comic came to be.


Friday, November 4, 2016

And the winners of the Purple Purse Challenge are...

The Purple Purse  Challenge has ended and Allstate announced the grand prize winners of the Challenge.
Allstate's excitement was evident in their words,
"The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge is officially over and all wrapped up. Such an exciting finish and over $1.2 Million was raised by so many amazing Division II organizations.  What an incredible Challenge."
At Wellspring we agree. We were astounded and continue to be so very grateful for the support of our community in the Purple Purse Challenge... and more importantly in being champions for our vision of ending relationship and sexual abuse in our community. Throughout October you made the impossible, possible.
Because of your support Wellspring placed 5th in the nation in Division II of Allstate’s Purple Purse Challenge. Our community contributed $51,315 to support Wellsprings survivor services, prevention programs, and community engagement activities. Your generosity earned us an additional $26,000 in bonuses from Allstate. 
The staff and board of directors offer heartfelt gratitude for your generosity during Allstate’s month-long Purple Purse Challenge… and for your support of our work throughout the year. Together we can end relationship and sexual abuse in our community.
Thank you!