As a domestic violence (DV) survivor, reality television star Evelyn Lozada has certainly turned her hurt into joy and now she’s hoping to help other women do the same with the Evelyn Lozada Foundation (ELF). During Domestic Violence Awareness month this October, ELF is looking to raise $25,000 online for two non-profit organizations, Sauti Yetu Center for African Women and Violence Intervention Program (VIP), Inc in the Bronx, with the “Turn Hurt Into Joy” campaign.
To raise the funds, Lozada is giving people the chance to win the Ines Di Santo wedding gown she wore when she married Chad Johnson by donating to the campaign at VIPmujeres.org.
“I wore this dress as I prepared to enter into one of the most sacred and memorable unions of my life,” Lozada explained. “Although all did not end well for me, it doesn’t mean that my hurt couldn’t be turned into joy! This online campaign is my testament that a negative can be transformed into a positive.”
Below, Lozada shared more with us about the campaign and how we can support women in abusive relationships.
Besides your personal experience, what inspired you to create the Evelyn Lozada Foundation?
My personal experience with domestic violence is a big part of my decision to form The Evelyn Lozada Foundation, coupled with decreases in funding for nonprofits that provide the hands-on services and staggering DV statistics and my unwavering commitment to be a supportive voice for victims and survivors. I just could not sit by and do nothing—that was not an option for me! A key component of the mission at The ELF is to be a catalyst for changing society to have zero tolerance for domestic violence. Education, healing and advocacy are what ELF would like to be known for.
How did you connect with Violence Intervention Program and Sauti Yetu Center for African Women for this campaign?
VIP and Sauti Yetu Center for African Women are two amazing nonprofits servicing domestic violence survivors in the Bronx. (According to data available to me, the Bronx has the highest number of reported DV cases within the five boroughs of NYC.) ELF’s Philanthropic Strategist Jennifer Jones identified these organizations as viable recipients of our Turn Hurt Into Joy Online Fundraising Campaign proceeds. One of ELF’s Boardof Directors and I met with Cecelia Gaston (Executive Director, VIP) and Zenaib Eyega (Executive Director, Sauti Yetu), and we knew the right choice had been made.
What is it that you want people on the outside looking in to understand about domestic violence and the women who are in these relationships?
I would caution women/men that are in volatile abusive relationships not to underestimate what could happen next. And for those on the outside looking in—I would say to them that every 9 seconds in the United States, a woman/man is physically beaten and the long-term effects of mental and financial abuse are astounding. Therefore, as a loved one or a friend, arm yourself with information as it relates to available resources—be cognizant of what DV looks and sounds like so you will be able to step up, step in and help.
Along with donating, how can the community and individuals support women they suspect are in abusive relationships?
If you suspect that a loved one is being abused—I would shout at you and say, if you see something…say something. If you saw and did nothing—shame on you.
Can you put in perspective what it’s like for a woman who is financially dependent on her abuser, especially if she has children?
Money fears will often halt or be a deciding factor on whether or not to leave an abusive relationship. If you are a woman/man with financial means, you leave and keep safe. There are so many other complicated scenarios yet action has to be taken. As best you can, without sending up any red flags, create a financial and legal strategy exit plan, get out to safety and execute the plan. If there is no money or time to plan and there is imminent danger to your life, alert law enforcement immediately, after which survival mode will kick in.
What’s next for ELF and its mission to raise awareness and help domestic violence victims?
ELF is working on a book that will be a compilation of victim to survivor stories written by everyday women and men (all proceeds will be charitable) and lending our voice to impact change wherever necessary as it pertains to DV and the survival of victims.
Any advice for women currently in an abusive relationship and trying to get out?
Love yourself more…it starts there.