Thursday, January 3, 2013

In the Face of Inaction, Kristin's Call for Change

I have to wonder how many members of the House of Representatives ever downloaded a text message like this from their 21 year old daughter's phone, after she had been murdered (stabbed more than 50 times in her own kitchen) by her boyfriend.

I'm guessing not many.

If they had - in an odd, bizarre, twist of fate way - then Tuesday night might not have happened. Or, maybe it may have happened a bit differently.

That's when the House of Representatives, in the midst of the fiscal cliff craziness and blocking federal aid to devastated Hurricane Sandy victims, made yet another unbelievable head-shaking move. (One that leads us a bit closer to living in A Handmaid's Tale land, but that's another post.)

By allowing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to die without a vote on Tuesday night, the House of Representatives basically told victims of domestic violence and their families that they don't matter.

I've written about Kristin Mitchell's story before - here, and here, and here. And I will continue to write about Kristin, because this story is so deeply personal to me for reasons only a handful of people know.

The reality is that domestic violence still carries a stigma and real people are still living in fear. Despite the statistics, we don't want to believe that people we know are being abused.

Your coworker in the next cubicle with a never-ending supply of Hershey Kisses.

Your best friend since kindergarten.

Your younger sister, who cheerfully wore the hideous maid of honor dress in your wedding.

Your neighbor up the street with the gorgeous lawn.

Your kids' bus driver who always waves as she drives away.

Your college roommate.

And when it comes to domestic violence on college campuses? In teen dating relationships?

We want to believe that everything is as picture perfect as it appears on prom night, that we're all slow-dancing happily ever after, and that domestic violence - and teen dating violence, in particular, doesn't exist.

It's not. Young women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rate of violence at the hands of someone they know.

Think about that for a second.

Now, think about your representatives who decided on New Year's Day that this wasn't important enough to do anything about.

That THE VERY LIFE of your coworker, your best friend, your sibling, your cousin, your neighbor, your babysitter, your child was not important enough to vote on.

So where do we go from here?

Since their daughter Kristin's death in 2005, the Mitchells have been a family that have transformed their profound tragedy into incredible change

The Mitchells are doing something about dating violence. They're helping to lead the way when those in charge fail to do so.

Through the Kristin Mitchell Foundation, grant funding is available for projects that help to raise awareness among young adults and teens about Dating Violence Prevention.  Preference is given to projects designed to raise awareness among college-aged young adults.  However, proposals will also be considered for projects designed to reach high school students.

Funding requests for each project can be up to $3,000. Projects with a total budget of more than this range must show, in the application, where additional funding will be drawn from.

The projects should focus on one or more groups of young adults within the Greater Philadelphia area (Philadelphia and/or Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, Bucks counties), and/or the following areas in Maryland: Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, and Charles County. Consideration will also be given for projects in other counties in PA and MD, provided that funding from the Kristin Mitchell Foundation is available.

Proposals submitted for consideration in March must be received by February 15th. Proposals submitted for consideration in September must be received by August 15th.  

Click here for more information, including the official KMF Grant Funding Application and additional details. 

As shown by the House of Representatives actions this week, our elected officials don't seem to want to be the leaders for the change we need. Now more than ever, it's up to us to be that change at the grassroots level, by initiating the projects that can help make a difference. 

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