Jennifer’s ex-boyfriend held a gun to her head when she was six months pregnant. The abuse had been going on for a while, but that was finally the moment she knew she had to get out.
She waited until her son was born because she was completely on her own with no family to turn to. She fled Las Vegas with her baby, $50 and the cheapest bus ticket out of state — which was to Flagstaff. Some quick luck landed her at a shelter in Phoenix who referred her to Fresh Start Women’s Foundation for counseling and career support. Jennifer and her son are doing great now, thanks to her perseverance and strength — but there are so many like her that never make it that far.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Each year, the statistics seem to get grimmer. Did you know that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime? Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting women in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. At our Women’s Resource Center in Phoenix, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation sees new cases every week. We have visits from approximately 25,000 women every year and almost 40 percent of the women we see have experienced some kind of abuse. The ones that make it through the doors of Fresh Start are usually the lucky ones — they have gotten to that point in their life where they are ready to make a change. Unfortunately, there are so many that don’t make it to us. Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner.
There are so many women like Jennifer that we see at Fresh Start each week. Fresh Start supports these women with counseling, education, career services, legal services and support groups. In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month, I hope that you will join Fresh Start in spreading the word about this cause. It is still so important and critical to get these women out of their situation. We hope to help more women every year who have the courage to make a positive change in their life.
Learn more about Fresh Start at http://phoenix.wehelpwomen.com
• Susan Berman is president and CEO of the Fresh Start Women’s Foundation.