Three female advocates for rights of those impacted by domestic violence joined about 500 supporters of the Domestic Violence Crisis Center at its 13th annual Voices of Courage Spring Luncheon at the Stamford Marriott Hotel Thursday morning.
"One of the things that we're going to be talking about at todays luncheon is a further extension of how we help survivors of abuse and that is economic empowerment," said DVCC Advisory Board member Dede Bartlett. "It's one thing to leave an abuser, the next thing is to help people have the financial tools to get on their feet and stay on their feet."
The luncheon started with only 100 supporters 13 years ago and it soon grew along with public interest and awareness on domestic abuse and the numerous services available.
"There are services available," said Linda Fairstein, introductory speaker and former prosecutor and author. "You don't need to be in this alone, you don't need to live in fear and at risk."
Speakers included Leslie Morgan Steiner, writer, business woman and domestic violence survivor whose memoir "Crazy Love" describes her journey and escape from and abusive marriage, as well as Linda Fairstein a former prosecutor and author, and longtime domestic violence awareness advocate and DVCC Advisory Board member Dede Bartlett, who was honored with the 2015 Voice of Courage Award.
"We've seen it all," said Linda Fairstein. "We've seen every kind of situation, people with disabilities, people afraid they're not going to get out. People who don't know what to do with their children, their pets, but that kind of help. There's a great sophisticated range of resources available now that didn't exist two decades ago."
"When we first started talking in Fairfield County about this problem, people said this happened in other neighborhoods," said Bartlett. "It happened in the poorer parts of town, now people realize it happens everywhere."
Money raised at the event will help DVCC continue its mission to promote its free confidential services to victims, through counseling, housing, medical, multilingual and legal services. Last year the center provided shelter to 435 individuals and other services to over 3,000 victims of domestic violence.
"To see the changes, it's quite extraordinary and I started at a time where there really was no hope for domestic violence, not in the criminal courts, and no resources," said Fairstein.
For more information on the Domestic Violence Crisis Center visit dvccct.org and or call its 24 hour toll free hotline at 1-888-774-2900.