As a survivor of dating violence, advocating for survivors of domestic and sexual violence is a passion of mine. I spent my freshman year in college in an abusive relationship, and spent the following year navigating the court system and working to extricate myself from that relationship and protect myself from future abuse. Years later, I became an advocate.
When I graduated from college in 2001, I came to NH to serve for one year as a member of the AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program, a program of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. AmeriCorps members who join this particular program are placed in crisis centers, police departments, prosecutors’ offices, and child advocacy centers throughout the state, and devote a year or more to serving people affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. This program is unique to New Hampshire and we are very fortunate to have had it here for over 20 years now.
Nearly every day during my year of service with the AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program, I provided support to at least one person who was attempting to protect themselves from their abuser. While some of them could have gotten through it without the support of an advocate, others would not have made it through the front doors of the courthouse without knowing that an advocate would be there to guide and support them through the process. While every one of them may have secured a restraining order on their own, some of them would have been unsuccessful in escaping future abuse if an advocate hadn’t been there to educate them about the cycle of violence and the support services available to assist them in staying away from their abusers.
As a volunteer and former board member, I continue to support the work of the Coalition because no woman should have to go through what I went through and, if she must go through it, she shouldn’t have to go through it alone.
I hope you will join me in this latest opportunity -- the Purple Purse Challenge! The Coalition was selected to participate in this campaign aimed at raising awareness about the impact of financial abuse. Domestic violence affects 1 in 4 women, and the number one reason victims remain in relationships with their abusers is that they lack the financial resources to break free. The Coalition is committed to providing survivors with the financial knowledge, skills, and resources they need to get safe, stay safe, and thrive.
More information from the Coalition:
Established in 1977, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence creates safe and just communities through advocacy, prevention and empowerment of anyone affected by sexual violence, domestic violence and stalking.
The Coalition provides technical and financial support to 13 independent crisis centers across New Hampshire and serves as a leading voice for victims by working with state government and national elected officials to create and defend effective laws and policies that serve survivors, protect children, hold perpetrators accountable, and support prevention efforts.
Our crisis center member programs provide free and confidential services to adult and child survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and trafficking. In 2015 member programs provided services to over 12,000 victims and provided educational prevention presentations to over 40,000 individuals. Unfortunately, in the 2014-2015 state budget, NH appropriated just $60,000 in general fund dollars for domestic violence crisis centers, with ONLY about $1,538 appropriated to each crisis center. This simply isn't enough for crisis centers to do what's needed in our communities, including providing: a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter and support groups for adults and children; accompaniment, support, and advocacy at local hospitals, courts, and police departments; assistance with restraining orders and referrals to legal and other community programs; and community and professional outreach and education.
That's where you come in. Your donation today - of any amount - will help ensure victims of domestic violence across New Hampshire have the resources they need to leave abusive relationships and find their independence.