“Abuse thrives in silence. I told everyone.”

by ZontaDoris

We Zonta members are busy this month educatin’ ourselves and others!

Melissa Dohme in CBS 48 Hours, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/48-hours-live-to-tell-one-last-hug/

We’re hosting a Teen Dating session at Gibbs High School with CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse) featuring Melissa Dohme on October 19. Melissa is a courageous young woman who nearly died of 30 stab wounds inflicted by her boyfriend in 2012. Her horrific story of abuse and recovery moves anyone who listens to tears. Melissa has since graduated from college summa cum laude and has found her calling as a victim advocate with Hands Across the Bay. She is also engaged to marry the first responder, a fireman–Cameron Hill, who found her dying on the road.

Melissa will tell her story to help prevent young adults from entering into or staying in abusive situations. Because she is young, she is sure to engage effectively with the audience. We’ll have a school resource officer and CASA counselors there to help explain the law and emotional aspects of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), too.

On October 27, we’ll be at the USF St. Petersburg campus co-hosting a showing of the Hunting Ground. This film garnered acclaim when it was released in January 2015, months before one of the alleged perpetrators on a college campus was preening for the 2015 NFL draft. Jameis Winston, an FSU graduate, Heisman Trophy winner, and Tampa Buccaneers #1 draft choice, is now playing professional football and contributing to the community in well-publicized off-the-field philanthropic activities. I’ll be interested to see how the film presents Winston and sexual assault on college campuses. Here is what I wrote in August citing this case.

We are setting up visits to candidates for the Florida Legislature in several House districts and one Senate district. We want to discuss our concerns about domestic violence and human trafficking with them, and how more and earlier education is needed with younger adults to prevent Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and human trafficking, and earlier, more nuanced & supported interventions for victims and batterers. We all need to know how to stop standing by and become upstanders instead.

In preparing for the visits, I have been doing online research and ran across this TedxRanier video below. With some sweet humor, Leslie Morgan Steiner tells her story as a survivor of domestic violence. In 15 minutes, we learn how she went from a “magical trust” created by her suitor to “Crazy Love” to full abuse and potential death. This happened even though she was a smart Harvard graduate living in Manhattan when she met the man who would become her husband and take her away from friends and family to a small town in New England that served as her jail. crazylove9780312377465_p0_v1_s192x300

Steiner made me see why women stay with abusive partners because they see themselves as she did, “a strong woman in love with a deeply troubled man–I was the only person to help my husband face his demons.” After her last “sadistic beating,” she told everyone–police, family, neighbors, friends, even strangers–about what she had sustained and the risk she still was in after leaving her abuser because “abuse thrives in silence.” Her book Crazy Love received good reviews. It made me smile to know that she is now happily married, has 3 children, a black Lab, and a Honda Odyssey van. Good times can follow evil when survivors are aided by victim advocates, family, and friends.

Hope this wrap-up finds you well and engaged in your life and community.  Join us at Zonta if you are interested in being connected globally and advocating and serving locally.

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 The views expressed in this blog post are mine and may not reflect the stance of the Zonta Club of Pinellas County or Zonta International. — Doris Reeves-Lipscomb