Recognizing Melody Kimmel: A Pillars of Change Honoree

For her pro bono service as a presentation and media trainer for those speaking at Sanctuary’s Annual Benefit.

Melody Kimmel brought her talent as one of the nation’s leading media, message, and presentation trainers to Sanctuary for Families nearly 10 years ago. Every year, Sanctuary hosts our Zero Tolerance Benefit, a 1,000-person sit-down dinner that raises over $2 million to support Sanctuary’s work. Melody generously donates her time each year to ensure that every speaker is prepared to deliver the most compelling remarks, working one-on-one with a gentle approach and a laser-focused editorial pen. Many of our speakers have never addressed an audience of that size, and Melody instills confidence while sharing practical speaking tips with grace and style and always a sense of humor. She is an absolute pleasure to work with, and we are enormously grateful for all she has done to make Sanctuary shine over the years.

To learn more about Melody Kimmel and her work, please join us on June 17th from 6:30 pm -7:00 pm at our virtual Pillars of Change.

RED FLAGS: A one woman play about domestic violence

RED FLAGS traces my experience as a survivor of domestic violence and helps viewers identify the signs of abuse.

Have you seen the headlines? Have you heard news stories about the rise in domestic abuse due to COVID-19? I have too, and I realized there may be a way to help. Very often the first step to getting out of an abusive relationship is recognizing that you are in one! However, breaking free is only the first step. The steps that follow can be very difficult and because of that difficulty, many victims give up and return to their abusive partners, again and again, continuing the cycle of violence and all too often losing their lives.

I have written a one-woman show called “RED FLAGS” based on my own experience in living with and surviving domestic violence. My journey, like many victims, was a search for the dream of perfect love. The reality of my relationship eventually proved to be a horror of physical and psychological abuse.

In the play “RED FLAGS” I used my real-life experiences to tell the audience about the warning signs that can make the difference between years of abuse, or even death, and a lifetime of freedom.

Sanctuary for Families played a big part in my recovery and return to a “normal” life after I escaped from my abusive husband. The counseling, the support groups, and the pro-bono legal assistance were invaluable to me! I gained self-confidence and strength from the knowledge that other women’s experiences were very similar to mine – some were even identical down to the exact words used. As a result, I realized I was not going crazy! Some of the characters in “RED FLAGS” are based on the people I met at Sanctuary for Families and they speak volumes about the good work Sanctuary is doing.

I recently had the opportunity to produce a full-length video of “RED FLAGS” (:55 min.) and it is now available to share with the world! You could be a part of this mission to find a way to make the video available to those who need it most. My hope is to share “RED FLAGS” as a free resource so survivors can have access to its valuable lessons and information. “RED FLAGS” helps viewers learn about the warning signs, know what to look for in a healthy relationship, and give viewers tools for survival after breaking free.

Watch my play and go to my website, to learn more. 

Photo by Mel D. Cole Photography

Our Statement on the Atlanta Shootings

Regarding the March 16th shooting in Atlanta, Georgia.

We are heartbroken and angered by the violence in Georgia last night. Reportedly motivated by a “sex addiction” and desire to eliminate the “temptation[s]” he found at Atlanta-area massage parlors, the perpetrator brutally shot and murdered eight people – the majority of whom were Asian women. We will call this for what it is – a racist and misogynistic act of violence. The targeting and murder of these women is a consequence of the hyper-sexualization and objectification of Asian women. It is also reflective of the violence many in the sex trade experience at the hands of people with privilege and power. As advocates in the movement to end gender violence, we stand with survivors and people in the sex trade, as well as with Asian communities in Georgia and across the country who have been reeling from the increase in racial discrimination this year.

43 Survivors Graduate from the Economic Empowerment Program

Read the inspiring speeches delivered three Economic Empowerment Program graduates during the Winter 2021 virtual graduation.

In January, Sanctuary for Families’ Economic Empower Program held its semi-annual graduation ceremony to celebrate the achievements of 43 gender violence survivors. With friends, family and Sanctuary staff and supporters attending through Zoom, the graduates virtually accepted their diplomas  marking the start of a new stage in both their personal and professional lives.

To honor the occasion the class elected fellow graduates to speak on their behalf. The speeches delivered by “Cristina,” “Desirae,” and “Laura” reflect many of the challenges faced by survivors of gender violence. Follow the links below to read their speeches.

“Cristina”: My past does not define me

“A month before being released and coming home, my lawyer reached out to me and told me about Sanctuary for Families and the Economic Empowerment Program. Learning about EEP was the beginning of me becoming my best self. In the past, all I felt was isolation – now, I feel ready to jump in and take on what the world has to offer me.”

Read more

“Desirae”: A reason to keep going

“Someone said that if 2020 was a TV show, it should have been canceled. I ask that we don’t cancel 2020. I understand that the pandemic sucks, the restrictions suck. Many people lost their loved ones to COVID-19, and life, as we are used to, is no longer available. We all are sorrowful for that. But beyond all the despair, I look at the bright side.”

Read more

“Laura”: Looking forward to a future of better possibilities

“I would like to congratulate all my classmates for the courage we demonstrated by studying hard, regardless of the emotional pain we were facing. We created a safe virtual community reminding one another, we are strong, intelligent, and deserving.”

Read more

All names have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients.