When we start a relationship, we always focus on the good in the other person, often ignoring warning signs that this person who we deem our closest, most loving companion, might not have our best interest at heart. Sometimes that leads to verbal, emotional, sexual or physical abuse. According to NCADV, in Connecticut more than 37% women and 34 % men experience domestic violence, intimate partner sexual violence or stalking during their lifetime.
For local entrepreneur, inspirational speaker and author, Diana Pagano, that statistic hits close to home. Her Fill a Purse Domestic Violence Drive 2020 was a huge success and in 2021 she knew she had to do it again.
For all the victims forced out of their homes into local shelters.
For all the children in crisis.
For her family and for herself.
Diana has been speaking openly in the past couple of years (on Instagram and Facebook ) about her experience with domestic violence early in life, and how that has affected her. Her will and strength to make things happen has successfully led her out of this difficult situation and now she yearns to empower others to take that step as well.
The yearly domestic violence charity event evolved this year from “Fill a Purse” to “Purse Full of Hope”.
“I needed to make sure that the name represented what I am trying to do for the domestic violence community, “Diana says.” This is not only about filling purses with necessary and needed stuff. It is so much more than that. This is about giving hope and empowering domestic violence victims, and especially women, to look beyond today and focus on the future full of possibility, the way that I did. And most importantly, I want them to know that there is a community behind them, rooting for them and their families.”
YOU made things happen!
As they say, sometimes it takes a village and all of you who participated in the event were part of that village, part of that community. With the help of local Daybreak Coffee Roasters in Glastonbury, for the in-person drive through event and the use of Amazon Wish List for online donations, a Purse Full of Hope filled 65 bags with everyday supplies and necessities for domestic violence victims in December 2021. The items included but were not limited to toiletries, hygiene products, styling products, sanitizing products, beauty and cosmetics items as well as gift cards to local eateries, coffee shops and grocery stores.
The Purse Full of Hope tote bags were distributed to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV), who support 30 local shelters in CT. You can follow the link to their website to learn more about their initiatives and how to support local domestic abuse victims.
Why domestic violence victims don’t leave?
This is a question that people related or not related to domestic violence victims often bring up. In reality, leaving an explosive or violent situation is never easy or straightforward, and sometimes it can be downright deadly.
That is why it is so important that domestic violence survivors receive all the support they can on this hard and even dangerous journey.
“I am full of gratitude to all of you who extended your hearts to this cause! It’s nice to see family and friends show up and it’s another feeling all together when it’s complete strangers.” Diana commented.
And it’s exactly the kindness of strangers that sometimes makes the biggest difference in domestic violence victims’ lives. Only in one year in CT, 46,750 victims were served by domestic violence relief programs. Those statistics show how much it makes a difference to support those in need, to give them hope. And that is what Diana focuses on.
How does domestic violence affect the victim and their family?
When a person, no matter gender or age is in a domestic violence situation, there are many effects that influence their life and the lives of their family members, more often than not including children.
- Physical trauma, illness, disability or death
- Emotional and psychological trauma, including unlocking mental health issues, for example stress, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, eating disorders etc.
- Homelessness or difficult domestic circumstances, for example frequent relocations
- Substance abuse- drugs, alcohol and more, which can affect work performance or the ability to keep a job.
- Chronic health issues can be exacerbated, especially because in many circumstances victims don’t seek medical help in order to hide the abuse.
- Unhealthy family environment- constant arguments, some including violence.
- For children it can affect performance at school and affect their mental health- less empathy for others, bullying, low self-esteem, self-harm and more.
While this is not an exhaustive list of all the ways domestic violence victims are affected, it does show a glimpse of the situation that Diana is trying to alleviate, not just with her yearly Purse Full of Hope Charity Event, but with her inspirational speaking, webinars and events as well.
Her focus when she is giving back is especially on women in crisis and the ways they can help themselves move on to a safe, fulfilling and successful life, beyond what they could have imagined possible.
But no man or woman is an island. We all need a helping hand, that is why Diana was humbled to tears by the support she received with the “Purse Full of Hope” event.
“I was so grateful to see all the donations we were able to receive and how the community came together. We often feel that a small donation doesn’t do much when in fact it did. Each bag that we filled is allowing domestic violence victims out there to feel like someone/an entire community is rooting for them. And that is priceless!”
What can you do?
It is not easy to be in a domestic violence situation yourself, but it is also hard to watch or suspect from afar and feel helpless. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, know that there are many people, organizations and resources that can help.
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) for those who have difficulty hearing. If you are looking for a local CT resource, visit CTSafeConnect.org or call/text (888) 774-2900.