COVID-19 has had a way of bringing to light some saddening realities within our communities.
Do you know that on average, more than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the U.S. will experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime? That’s according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
While these statistical realities are frightening, COVID-19 only made situations worse with the lockdown, causing additional difficulty to seek assistance, and the loss of jobs and income further entrapping victims of abuse. This is where my story begins.
Hello, hello! I am Hannah Hollander, Graphic Designer for TCL and Executive Director of a nonprofit called Speak Your Truth Today (SYTT). SYTT started in February, 2019 after a personal Facebook post of mine went slightly viral. I had opened up to my friends about the secret violent reality I had been living in for 3 years, and to my surprise, thousands of people related to what I wrote.
So, on a whim, I decided to make a private Facebook support group for domestic violence survivors, where we could share encouragement and resources while recovering from the abuse. Two and a half years later, we now have over 18,000 members worldwide, more than 25 team members nationwide who volunteer weekly, have become an official 501(c)3 nonprofit, and on average we have helped 3 people leave an abusive relationship EVERY SINGLE WEEK since we began.
Our mission is to amplify the voices of victims and survivors of domestic violence. Every day we journey with individuals who feel trapped - trapped in the abuse or trapped in the PTSD from the abuse. We are able to offer education, resources, and 24/7 emotional support. Because we are an entirely online community, COVID-19 didn’t affect our ability to offer support, it only intensified it.
1 in 3 women / 1 in 4 men means that if you haven’t experienced it yourself, your sibling, cousin, friend, or coworker will. Knowing what to say and how to help can be vital to their survival.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so I decided to reach out to my manager to see if TCL would be interested in partnering with us this month as we launched our very first fundraising campaign called “Help Get Us Up & Running.” I was amazed by the response.
Not only did TCL want to partner with our organization, but they wanted me to take a look at their Domestic Violence Policy to see if there were ways TCL could improve to benefit survivors in these situations.
I was so moved.
When I left my abusive ex-husband, I had to also leave my marketing position at my previous job for my own safety. Unfortunately, as kind as they were, they didn’t have a Domestic Violence Policy in place. So, I was jobless for 3 months in the midst of starting over, while finding new housing, and paying my lawyer for the divorce.
Luckily, I had family and friends who could support me, let me sleep on their couch for months and help get me back on my feet. But many are not so lucky.
Domestic violence is a hard and uncomfortable topic to talk about, but we need to have the conversation, especially when it comes to the workplace.
According to SHRM, 65% of employers don’t have a plan for domestic violence. Additionally, the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, another national nonprofit organization, found that “21 percent of full-time employed adults said they were victims of domestic violence and 74 percent of that group said they’ve been harassed at work.”
It is imperative for employers to develop strong DV policies and have leadership partake in training so that the signs of DV don’t go unnoticed, while taking into account the vulnerable place their employees may be in. A DV policy can quite literally enable a victim to escape safely and effectively - keeping their job intact as well as their finances.
I’m so proud to be a part of a team and company that recognizes the importance in listening to survivors like me, and implementing policies to help protect future survivors of domestic violence.