DV Underground Railroad needs your support

Author’s note: When I originally posted this a few years back, I hoped people would respond with financial support for my friend’s work. Instead I have been contacted by countless women who need help getting out of a violent situation. Unfortunately, to my knowledge my friend is no longer actively engaged. I am deleting my email address from the bottom of this post because I do not want to give false hope to people in need. And because this is a public blog, I would not encourage anyone to use the comments section to solicit help, because you will be at risk of exposure. Perhaps, however, folks who can help can provide relevant information to the women who come here seeking it.

When I was a kid I went to a summer camp in northeast Ohio that had offices in an old brick house on the shore of Lake Erie. We called the house Old Main, and legend had it that the basement of Old Main was one of the many stops along Ohio’s famous Underground Railroad, which helped over 40,000 people escape slavery to the safety of Canada.

As kids we thrilled to think of the important role Old Main held in providing safe passage. But we also feared the basement, perhaps for the pain and fear we somehow knew was stored in its rock walls.

I’ve recently come to understand how the Underground Railroad is still alive and active in rescuing women and children who are victims of domestic violence and abuse. There is a Michigan-based domestic violence organization that takes its name from this historic movement. But that very public service provider is not what I’m talking about here.

Every 15 seconds an act of domestic violence occurs in the United States. 25% of women and 7.6% of men in the US have suffered from domestic violence at some time in their lives, according to a national study. There are many shelters, advocates and institutional providers established to help people recognize, remove themselves from and heal from the traumas of domestic violence.

Sometimes, however, organizational responses are not enough. Sometimes what is required is speed and secrecy, coded conversations on two-way radios, women with pseudonyms piloting cars equipped with emergency provisions and obscured license plates, midnight rescues that operate, like swat teams, on adrenalin, planning and sheer chutzpah.

I’ve recently learned that a friend is very active in this modern domestic violence Underground Railroad. Over the past few years she has participated in nearly 100 rescues, getting women and children out of dangerous situations and reconnected with family, service providers and others who can support these women through their process of surviving abuse. As someone who has survived domestic violence herself, she has a very private and personal motivation for doing this work. Although she lives on a low income herself, my friend pays out of her pocket for the special radios, gases up her vehicle for rescues that may run 100s of miles, scrimps and saves so she can pay for the next rescue, the next saved life.

As someone who has, fortunately, not suffered the trauma of domestic violence, and realizes the privilege of this good fortune, I feel personally drawn to support this heroic effort. I’m doing that by raising the issue to your awareness: domestic violence is epidemic, people are suffering, people need our help. And I’m working to raise some money to support this work.

But this is not a typical fundraising request. Neither my employer, Solid Ground, nor any other formal organization supports this effort. The need for security, privacy and safety for the clients requires there be no trackable affiliation. And there is no board of directors offering oversight, no audited financial statements. You’ve really only got my word and my belief in my friend. If you can reach into your pocket and help out, as I am doing, you will not get a tax-deductible receipt. But you will get thanked, and you will know that by paying for a few gallons of gas, a month’s phone bill, a jug of water or a first-aid kit for the car, by helping with these barebones essentials, you will be helping to save women’s lives.

Every 15 seconds. In the time it has taken to read this little note, maybe a dozen more women have suffered abuse. Together we can stop the clock enough to save at least a few. We can fuel up the Underground Railroad for another life-saving run.

If you would like to help out, please post a comment with any resources that you know are available to support women surviving domestic violence.

Please note that this request is not affiliated with or endorsed by Solid Ground in any way.

Thank you.

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