October is a month of awareness: breast cancer, down syndrome, emotional wellness, Halloween safety and a topic that rarely gets brought up: domestic violence.
Did you know that 1 in 4 women will be physically assaulted by a partner during her lifetime?
As upsetting as that statistic is, there is hope and a wonderful safe haven within our community. Human Options is a non-profit in Orange County that has been serving families since 1981. Each year more than 20,000 lives are touched by the help of Human Options.
It is not easy to break the cycle of domestic violence, but it can be done.
After years of suffering, I watched my own mother end a challenging cycle of emotional, mental and physical abuse. In May of 2001, we walked through the doors of Human Options emergency shelter and that’s where we began to rebuild our lives. When we arrived, we had the clothes on our backs and a duffel bag of items we quickly threw together. Fortunately, the shelter had everything else we needed: beds, sheets, toiletries, hygiene items, and food.
Those essential items would not have been possible without donors and donations. In 2013 a group was formed known as the Sisterhood.
This group of women meets quarterly to assist with necessities around the shelter and build a friendship based on philanthropy. For the past five years, they kick off the start of the new year with the Birthday Giving Project, which helps to collect items to host birthday parties for the children celebrating in the shelter. April is followed up with the Essentials Drive, where the Sisterhood members donate new toiletries and hygiene products for the families coming into the shelter. Each August they meet to collect new items for back-to-school season to send the kids to class with the necessary tools to excel for the year. They finish off the year with a giving mission the Thanksgiving Meal Box Drive to ensure no family goes hungry on this holiday.
The Sisterhood also focuses on education at each gathering.
Community educators teach us how to look for social queues of relationship violence, how to talk to children who have become victims of violence, even how to be more empathetic in everyday life. This group of women is always welcoming new members, and as a Sisterhood member myself, we would love to see some new faces.
We are a community who comes together to better the lives of families living amongst us and who are making a conscious effort to better themselves.