By Susan Feldman, Endowment Specialist, The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit; Domestic Violence Survivor; JWI Board of Trustees
October as you know is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Ironically, October happens to be the month that I took my three children out of our home and fled in safety. The date, October 5, 1995….. 17 years ago this month that we marched to freedom and we have never looked back! Now our life is about looking forward. My kids and I spend time speaking out and educating others about the fact that Domestic Violence occurs not only in low income/trailer-trash environments but it just as frequently affects those who are Jewish, well educated professionals and upper class. Generally we don’t know their stories because they are too embarrassed to speak out about what is taking place behind closed doors. I know that for a fact, I too, was embarrassed to speak out about what I was experiencing.
Now during Domestic Violence Awareness month I proudly wear a purple ribbon to work every day (pictured). These same ribbons and signs about Domestic Violence Awareness month can be found throughout our office building as well as on the campuses of other Jewish agencies throughout the Metropolitan Detroit area. Similarly purple ribbons are on trees outside these same agency buildings recognizing the importance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Co-workers can be seen wearing the ribbons as well. What a great feeling that I am no longer alone….that we get it and our voices are being heard.
In this same vein, I am happy to state that I spoke at a fundraising breakfast for The Haven, a safe haven shelter. 300+ men and women attended this powerful fundraising event. Since then I have been contacted by individuals on LinkedIn and around the Detroit community thanking me for sharing my story and telling me that they have now made their first donation to The Haven. Those individuals in the audience that knew me but had not heard me speak could be seen wiping away the tears rolling down their cheeks. I told them not to cry, for my kids and I are healthy and we survived; cry for those whose voices can no longer be heard and be their advocates. Let’s make zero our goal for the number of victims of domestic violence!
Susan Feldman shared her story at JWI’s 2011 Women to Watch gala luncheon. Watch the video of her speech: