Purple Purse Challenge

Vujici-arimo-abwiriza[1]

Why being a Board Member of Between Friends and the Purple Purse Challenge mean so much to me?

October is Domestic Violence awareness month. As a domestic violence survivor from being in an abusive marriage to becoming an Award winning CPA ,a published author for AICPA, getting married to a loving and kind man, it has been quiet a journey.

Between Friends is a non- profit dedicated to preventing domestic violence.  They provide teen dating violence prevention programs in 40 schools in Chicago area empowering our youth to build their lives and communities free of abuse. I am honored to be on the Board of this amazing organization that is passionate about preventing abuse.

Domestic violence is not just physical abuse. It can be financial, sexual or emotional abuse. I have met a lot of people these past 6 years when working with survivors and in also in my social network and it’s heart breaking to know that so many have experienced some form of domestic violence at some time in their life regardless of age, ethnicity, social background, gender, sexuality or religion. 

The number one reason domestic violence survivors stay or return to an abusive relationship is that they don’t have the financial resources to break free. I know this to be true because I experienced it. 

Purple Purse Fundraiser is about financial empowerment of survivors. Your donations to Purple Purse will enable agencies to provide life changing financial empowerment services to survivors. It will help survivors build safer lives for themselves and their communities 

I hope my story inspires you to join me in raising money to help survivors.  Please donate at the link below – https://lnkd.in/e5FNKUM

Advertisements

Unbreakable Spirit

20171003_091554_001

Both now and for always I intend to hold fast to my belief in the hidden strength of human spirit- Andrei Sakharov

I was feeling sad reading about Vegas on my morning commute and I looked up at the sky unsure if I needed to say a prayer or ask why?

To my surprise I saw a beautiful rainbow instead and my heart filled with hope.

The world seems like a scary place these days. Devastating hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and then unthinkable acts of crime. Whenever I read the news it makes me sick to my stomach.

But  this morning I realized I need to look up more and not lose sight of what lies ahead. Sometimes we are so down by what is happening around us that we fail to see the good that exists in abundance along side the bad things that happen.

The power of  the human spirit is incredible, our ability to love and be courageous is in the face of devastation is incredible. The truth is nothing or no one can break our spirit.

So here is to hope, love and the resilience of human spirit.  Cheers!

-Copyright 2017 Vani Murthy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empowering children through DV education

20170512_092500

“The more that we choose not to talk about domestic violence, the more we shy away from the issue, the more we lose”- Russell Wilson

Early this year I became a Board Member of  Between Friends, a non profit focused on preventing domestic violence in Chicago area. Our non profit works with kids from 6th to 12th grade and we are present in 40 schools in Chicago. Our programs are tailored to help kids recognize the warning signs of abuse and understand healthy relationships. By educating our children and making them aware of domestic violence we believe we are investing in a safe community for our future generations by taking an important step towards preventing and ending domestic violence.

As a new board member I am required to observe some of our programs. The School program is our biggest one and so I decided to observe a session. Our Program director met with me and walked me through the details including how many kids we have reached etc. Later I went to class where two of our instructors were going to educate 7th graders. When the kids walked in I wasn’t sure if they were the right age to understand complex topics such as abuse, healthy relationships, warning signs etc. The kids seemed playful, chatty, some shy and quiet.

But the instructors skill fully got everyone’s attention. I was really impressed how they started having a conversation with them about their weekend to make the kids feel comfortable and then slowly opened up the discussion to more serious subject of dating violence. The activity required the kids to imagine they were in a relationship with a person of their choice in their mind . The instructors picked a gender neutral name so there would be no judgement if the kids chose to have a relationship with same sex partner.

Then they were given different scenarios where their partner would treat them a certain way and the children had to decide to “stay” or “go”. Rules were – They had to make their own choices, and not be influenced by what their friends said or did. Each kid had a safe space to make their choices and not be judged or ridiculed by others. As each scenario was read out I saw these playful kids suddenly faced with choices like adults. Although at the beginning of the activity they were still giggling and smiling, I saw their playfulness shift to a more serious mood when their imaginary partner started crossing the line. I watched in awe as each one of them made a choice to stay or go.

During  Q & A most of the kids clearly identified warning signs of abuse including the cycle of abuse and shared their views without any fear of judgement on their imaginary partners unhealthy behavior. Often times we dismiss kids as being too young to understand complex human emotions or circumstances. But these kids opened my eyes and I realized I had underestimated their emotional intelligence.

When the class ended I felt proud of these kids and  I realized that by engaging them in such discussions early on we were empowering them to build their lives and communities free of abuse.

Developing healthy attitudes and behaviors are the key to reducing violence. I am glad and grateful that I am part of the effort to create safe communities for our future generations.

Copyright Vani Murthy 2017