Despite rain and cold temperatures on Saturday, over 50 people showed up for the eighth Annual Walk Against Domestic Violence organized by Family Centered Services of Connecticut.
The event, organized in honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness month, aims to educate the public on the ramifications of domestic violence. This year’s iteration was hosted outside of Family Centered Services’ offices in East Rock and was sponsored by Yale New Haven Hospital, Activity Fitness Center, New Haven Health Department, Gleason’s Performance Training and Premier Car Wash & Express Lube.
“A lot of people think about domestic violence as being bruises and black eyes, but we want to focus on that hidden part of domestic violence that a lot of people don’t see, which is the financial abuse,” said Jodi Baloga, the development officer and a clinician at Family Centered Services. “Restricting access to income or making it so someone can’t have a job, or things like that. We really wanted to focus on that.”
Organizers this year asked attendees to donate to Family Centered Services through the Purple Purse Challenge — an initiative run by the Allstate Insurance Company’s nonprofit foundation that aims to increase the visibility of the effects of financial abuse in relationships.
The Challenge is a fundraising competition among organizations that serve survivors of domestic violence. Organizations who raise the most money by the end of the month will win large cash prizes from the Foundation to help fund their programs. Attendees of the walk were encouraged to donate to Family Centered Services so that the organization could win the $100,000 grand prize, giving them more opportunities to provide support to survivors.
Katie Chesanek, the director of Intimate Partner Violence–Family Assessment Intervention Response program at the organization, also said that donors who give $100 during the month of October will be entered to win a purse designed by Serena Williams for the Allstate Foundation.
She said that they have raised over $2000 through the Challenge so far. Baloga added that they hope to raise $10,000 by the end of the month.
Chesanek noted that the money raised in October is significant because Family Centered Services, a small nonprofit, only receives funding from grants and donations. Many of their programs are focused on working with individual clients.
“All the money that we raise will go right to our clients that we serve who may need help leaving a relationship, many of whom don’t have the money to buy a new outfit,” Chesanek said in an interview with the News. “Maybe they can’t buy an apartment, so it’s to help them with really practical things that are things that become so difficult for victims of domestic violence with economic abuse.”
Chesenek said that although much of the work that the organization does is centered around ending child abuse and creating a healthy family environment, combating domestic violence is an essential part of their mission to ensure all families are “safe and nurturing places.”
During the walk, attendees from around the Elm City carried signs that read “End Abuse” and “Stop Domestic Violence” as they marched through the East Rock neighborhood. In interviews with the News, attendees at the event emphasized the importance of focusing on financial abuse.
“[Financial abuse] is definitely something people don’t think about,” said Michaela Blain, a former public ally who worked with Family Centered Services. “Something like that, something so simple as keeping someone from being able to spend money, keeps them from their freedom and holds them back.”
The walk was especially meaningful to Kesha Barnes, an administrative assistant at Family Center Services. Barnes said she participated in the walk because her mother is a survivor of domestic violence.
“I hope people stop abusing. Put their hands down and use their words,” Barnes said.
The Purple Purse Challenge will end on Oct. 31.
Carolyn Sacco | firstname.lastname@example.org .