Saheli Shines Light on Domestic Violence in Uncertain Times

dv-awareness-month-purple-light-night-at-burlington-pdBy Shanta Poddar, Volunteer

In October of 2016, Saheli participated in and sponsored various events in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Since 1987, October has been observed as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the U.S. Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981, and was conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and children. The Day of Unity soon became an entire week devoted to a range of activities conducted at the local, state, and national level. The activities conducted were as varied and diverse as the program sponsors, but had a few common themes

  • Mourning those who have died because of domestic violence
  • Celebrating those who have survived
  • Connecting those who work to end violence

These three themes remain a key focus of DVAM events today.*

Saheli, as an organization that is dedicated to domestic violence prevention and recovery among New England’s South Asian communities, participated and sponsored various events throughout October to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Saheli participated in a month-long online fundraising challenge called Purple Purse along with dozens of other agencies nationwide that are working to end financial abuse. Saheli reached out to friends, families and supporters for online donations. Saheli is proud to report that we:

  • Finished in 11th place out of 160 small domestic violence agencies across the country
  • Received 143 individual donations
  • Raised $8,274 for Saheli’s Economic Empowerment Program
  • Won over $1,000 in bonus prize money that will go toward ending financial abuse, and
  • Received a generous donation from Muslim Community Support Services.

If you didn’t get a chance to contribute during Saheli’s Purple Purse Challenge and would like to donate now, please go to our website or send your donation to P. O. Box 1345, Burlington, MA 01803.

On October 6th, Saheli participated in Purple Lights Night in Burlington. Saheli volunteers walked with Lahey Clinic staff and other community partners to Burlington Police Station and lit a tree with purple lights, symbolizing hope and solidarity with those affected by domestic abuse. Purple is widely recognized as the color that represents domestic violence awareness.

On October 15, Saheli co-sponsored a Clothesline Project event with ADVISE, a domestic violence education agency in Shrewsbury, to raise awareness of domestic abuse. Participants painted t-shirts with various colors to represent different kinds of abuse. The event gave women who have endured abuse and their loved ones the opportunity to anonymously and safely make their stories public.

On October 26, Saheli co-sponsored a screening of the movie, Driving with Selvi, at Quincy High School. Driving with Selvi chronicles the life of Selvi, who survived an abusive marriage to become the first female taxi driver of South India. The film was followed by a discussion in which audience members and representatives from DOVE and Saheli explored common themes across cultures, both in the forms that abuse takes and in how communities can support people affected by abuse.

On October 28th at the Lahey Clinic Grand Rounds, Drs. Gouri Banerjee and Jonjy Ananth presented data regarding domestic abuse in the South Asian community, and introduced Saheli’s services to medical students and hospital staff.

That evening, Saheli received a New England Choice Award from India New England Multimedia for Best Non-Profit Organization. The awards ceremony took place at the Westin Hotel in Waltham, MA. This award recognizes Saheli’s tireless work to end domestic abuse in New England’s South Asian communities for the past 20 years.

On October 30th, Saheli was invited by the City of Cambridge to celebrate the city’s first-ever Diwali event. Saheli volunteers took this wonderful opportunity to reach out to the South Asian community in Cambridge and offer their services.

Throughout the fall, Saheli also undertook research with Dr. Uma Chandrika-Millner of Boston University to better understand the prevalence of domestic violence in New England’s South Asian communities, and to conduct a needs assessment of survivors of domestic abuse in 12 towns north and west of Boston in order to serve this population more effectively. (To read more about this research, click here.)

* Adapted from the Domestic Violence Awareness Month Resource Manual (1996) of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

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