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, redflagstheplay.com to learn more. 

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.”

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“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.”

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“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.

In “Cristina’s” words: My past does not define me

“Cristina” shares how our Economic Empowerment Program is helping her move beyond her past and rebuild her life.

The following speech was delivered by “Cristina,” a survivor and graduate of Sanctuary’s Economic Empowerment Program (EEP), during the January 2021 graduation. Of the 43 graduates, three were selected by class vote to share their thoughts and experiences with the audience.

Read “Cristina’s” speech: 

My name is “Cristina,” and 7 years ago I made a mistake that would deeply impact my life. As a result, I ended up in prison. I found myself hopeless and in despair.

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.

During the program, it felt good to wake up every morning and be a part of this community. I have truly learned in my time with EEP that while we all make mistakes in life, my past does not define me – who I was in the past is not who I am today. I sit before you with eyes opened to the importance of career development, and in possession of the knowledge of how to succeed in my career. Between the Microsoft Office certifications and interview preparation I have received as a participant, I’ve built up a confidence that I never imagined achieving.

None of this would have been possible without the support of this program and this organization – the computers, books, and materials provided guaranteed that I could finish the program without having to worry about the struggles that life often brings.

I have many people to thank – first, I give thanks to Kate and Allison for telling me about Sanctuary. Thank you to my children, family, and friends for never giving up on me. Thank you to Angelo J. Rivera, for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this amazing program. Thank you to Sarah – every time I wanted to give up, she continued to push me. Lastly, thanks to Jill Hopfield for always being there for me at every turn.

With EEP, I gained a new family that I know will always be there for me, no matter what I am going through. I have a team in Sanctuary for Families that gives me hope for my better tomorrow.

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

In “Desirae’s” words: A reason to keep going

“Desirae” shares why participating in our Economic Empowerment Program was the silver lining of 2020 for her.

The following speech was delivered by “Desirae,” a survivor and graduate of Sanctuary’s Economic Empowerment Program (EEP), during the January 2021 graduation. Of the 43 graduates, three were selected by class vote to share their thoughts and experiences with the audience.

Read “Desirae’s” speech: 

Good evening, everyone. As we gather this evening to celebrate our graduation, I want to thank the man who started the Economic Empowerment Program from scratch, Angelo J. Rivera. His laying the foundation for this program was amazing, but Angelo would not stop there. He then gathered magnificent people to run it. The EEP team serves the purpose of the program so gracefully – with competence and professionalism, this team has managed to tailor a curriculum that fits the needs of all of us despite the diversity of our members. I don’t know how you all did that, but it is mind-blowing, and it is beautiful that we all received this opportunity. We have benefited so much that we looked forward to coming back again and again to training, day in and day out. Additionally, the training and the Microsoft Office Specialist certifications I now hold are complete game-changers for my job search. That added value to my resume gave me the confidence to aspire for companies I would have only dreamed of working for in the past.

Furthermore, this team showed us that this is not just a “job” for them. They proved on many occasions that there is passion in their approach to this work. This makes a big difference. Many people and organizations want to help, but for one reason or the other, they fail to find the right people to carry their mission forward. Thank you to the EEP team for giving me so much to be thankful for, without taking anything away from me. Thank you for caring.

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. While the world was asked to exercise social distance, I met and connected with more people than ever before. I was able to go to school and boost my qualifications. All that happened in the comfort of our own homes. I want to thank Sanctuary and all of its partners that made this possible.

To my fellow EEP members, I want to say congratulations. Look at where we are – look at what we have done! Sharing this wonderful journey with you has been an honor and a great privilege for me. Thank you for sharing your stories and thank you for making our community a safe space for everyone. This has meant so much. As we move forward to the next step, let’s not forget that while we don’t know when and what type of recovery the country’s economy will have, one thing that is sure is that we are now commodities for when that recovery comes. We should celebrate our achievements. We had 1,000 reasons to give up, and Sanctuary gave us one reason to keep going. What we acquired in this program is ours – ain’t nobody gonna take it away from us. I love you, and God bless!

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