I was 26 years old. My daughter was 4. And I had been in abusive relationship for seven years.
I endured destruction of my personal property, verbal and physical abuse. In 1998, the day before Labor Day, my boyfriend beat me with repeated punches to my body and head that has resulted in physical scars that will remain with me for the rest of my life. With one blow, the orbital floor of my left eye socket was shattered beyond repair. A piece of titanium was surgically implanted to replace the bone.
Afterwards, it was a very challenging process for me to become physically, mentally and economically stable. Prior to this incident, I worked a part-time job and I did not have any short-term disability benefits or medical insurance. I found myself trying to manage my health while worrying about my financial concerns.
A few months later, I began working in the field of payroll processing and eventually transitioned into human resource management. While working as a human resource administrator, I observed how abusive relationships affected the economic stability of many women at my workplace.
Domestic violence victims at my job worked at different levels of the company, had different backgrounds and socio-economic statuses. One day after talking to an employee about her poor productivity and attendance, she revealed to me that she was in an abusive relationship. Later at home, through the inspiration of God, I wrote the draft for a business plan, including the name Sisters Acquiring Financial Empowerment (SAFE).
At the end of 2005, I was laid off from my job and April 2006, I took a huge leap of faith and began SAFE with no money and few resources.
The five years since SAFE was founded have been extremely rewarding. The organization has assisted more than 500 survivors of domestic violence. This year, SAFE is celebrating its fifth anniversary. In honor of this milestone, we are hosting the fifth annual Appreciation Event on Friday, July 22, 2011, from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the beautiful Detroit Historical Museum.
SAFE’s mission is to equip survivors of domestic violence with the appropriate financial tools and resources needed to enable them to leave or recover from the economic portion of domestic violence. SAFE directly assists survivors of domestic violence by providing ongoing training sessions which educate and assist women with financial literacy, career mapping, resume writing, interviewing skills, entrepreneurship and financial safety planning, among other topics.
SAFE’s approach incorporates educational outreach sessions to assist our community in understanding the issues related to economic abuse. The organization’s signature Domestic Violence Awareness Month community initiative-SAFE’s Health & Wealth Expo-provided free lunch, workshops, free medical screenings and access to more than 60 community-based programs. More than 750 people participated at this event last year. We anticipate having more than 1,000 participants at the 2011 event.
The work of SAFE fills a critical niche within the anti-domestic violence movement. I have had the opportunity to present workshops and keynote speeches regarding economic strategies for survivors of domestic violence for local, state and national conferences. In 2009, I was requested to speak on behalf of Women’s Policy Inc. and YWCA for a Congressional Briefing on “Economic Abuse and its Role in Domestic Violence.” The work of SAFE has received several honors, including the 2009 National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Spirit of Advocacy award. In the June 2011 issue of Glamour magazine, I was included in a feature on relationship violence.
At our July 22 Appreciation Event, hosted by Tracey McCaskill, news director and on-air host for Mix 92.3 and 98 WJLB, with a special keynote address from local ABC news anchor Carolyn Clifford, SAFE will present the Acquisition Award to recognize program participants who have made significant strides toward their goals.
We are looking forward to celebrating this event, and we are ready to assist survivors of domestic violence and reducing domestic violence in our community for as long as we are needed.
Sisters Acquiring Financial Empowerment (SAFE)