It is October. It is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we are once again gathering to celebrate, to remember, and to provide hope.
A person calling our Crisis Hotline said to the recently, “I just don’t think anyone will believe me,” as she was sharing details of the coercion and abuse she was enduring. Her partner was successful in business. They had what others would call a “happy family.” She shared, “I have covered for him for so long people that will think I am either crazy or lying.” She was stuck. Afraid. And felt alone. We – the friend – the family – the Community – must join each and every day, to bring hope to those who are struggling to find it, and we must let them know that they are not alone!
I would like to be able to share some astounding statistical statement that the incidents of domestic and intimate partner violence have gone down. I was asked the other day by a reporter for the News-Sun if there has been any improvement – meaning a decline in the violence. I hated having to say, “No,” that we do not see a decline. The data still holds true at 1 in 4 women and approximately 1 in 10 men experience domestic and intimate partner violence.
However, I believe that we have worked hard to build accessibility for victims seeking safety, supports and shelter. I also believe that we have worked hard in our prevention and education efforts, specifically in Bystander Intervention and Awareness, to support a community culture of peace. This is an investment in our future and hopefully one that will encourage next generations to stand up and say, “This is not right.”
Making change and making a difference is not something that happens quickly or easily. It is a lifetime commitment. One that each of us must make for ourselves and for each other.
Tonight, I am proud to announce this year’s Chrysalis Award is presented to Clara Copeland. Clara receives this award because of her lifetime commitment to peace, to making change, and to ensuring the voice of women, children, families and this community.
Clara lives her beliefs. Few can say that their life’s walk mirrors what is in their heart. It is not to say that there has never been regret or mislaid plans in Clara’s life, but the very core of her beliefs – whether it be her faith, her family, her politics, or her social justice commitments – is demonstrated each and every day in everything she does and says. She is an activist at heart, always looking to right the wrongs and bring important issues to the forefront of the community’s attention.
Clara has been a strong supporter of Project Woman as a volunteer, donor, and board member. But beyond that she is an advocate, which is the spirit of the Chrysalis Award. She works tirelessly to bring the changes she holds so deeply in her heart. Clara believes in honoring commitments and walking the walk, not just talking the talk. People who have had her in their lives are truly blessed and touched by someone who makes their lives better by knowing her.
Thank you Clara for all you have done and continue to do!
Laura Baxter, Executive Director – Project Woman
Visit projectwomanohio.org for information on tonight’s Candlelight Vigil and other Project Woman events this month.