Transforming lives doesn’t just happen. It takes committed, passionate, caring people giving their support and time. People like CORA’s current Board Chair, Rosemary. With a huge heart and a strong leadership, she’s the type of individual that truly is making a difference in the lives of those experiencing domestic violence. We sat down with Rosemary recently to see what drives her.
So, in a nutshell, who is Rosemary?
Right now I’m trying to figure out to mother two toddlers. Katie is a 3 year old, super spunky, and very determined little girl. Christopher is a very sweet 5 year old boy. He is currently obsessed with football and candy. Being a mom is the hardest job I’ve ever had.
When I’m not taking care of my kids, I am a Marriage and Family Therapist. I have a private practice in Redwood City.
How did you first get involved with CORA?
Before starting a family, I was the manager of Client Services at CORA. I helped to ensure CORA provided the highest quality of services to our community.
What personally drives you to help make domestic violence a thing of the past?
I have relatives who survived violent and abusive homes. I know that much of what they struggle with today is a direct consequence of the abuse. Children deserve to live in a safe home and without fear.
When you look at the issue of domestic violence in our society, what aspects do you think need to be addressed first?
One of most important factors to consider and respond to is how inequality contributes to relationship abuse. When one partner is not treated as an equal, he or she becomes an object. We must convince our society to treat others as equals, regardless of their gender, earning power, education level, and ethnicity. When someone is viewed as less powerful, he or she can become an object.
You’ve worked in the domestic violence field before and were actually a staff member here at CORA once. What have you learned through that time that you wish everyone in the community was aware of?
Our clients come from every walk of life. Relationship abuse effects the rich and the poor, the documented and undocumented, men and women, the lower and higher class. No group of people is immune to abuse. By realizing this, I hope others view this problem as a community issue. One that we should all support.
What are your hopes for the cause to end abuse as we move forward?
I’m not convinced that we can ever “end” domestic violence. But, I do believe that we can reduce it significantly. We have made tremendous progress in the last 50 years. Our next step is to reduce domestic violence in other countries. We should promote massive campaigns to prevent domestic violence. We must have hotlines and shelters for survivors who have no refuge or hope.
Is there a quote that really inspires you?
â€œSpread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.â€ – Mother Teresa
As we round the bend into 2017 and CORA gets ready to mark 40 years of service to San Mateo County, I can hardly believe how much we have grown. In many ways, last year was our best year ever. Increases in government grants (mostly state funds) and grants from foundations and individual donations, in particular, have made the future bright for CORA and for the thousands of families who turn to us in need.
This year we added several new programs and services. For example, we launched our Children’s Integrative Resiliency Program which provides therapy for child witnesses of domestic violence. That means CORA now offers a truly comprehensive array of specialized mental health services for individuals, groups, families and children. And we can now provide legal advocacy to support clients who have to face their batterers in court.
We also expanded our outreach and services to LGBTQ residents by bolstering our hotline with staff specially skilled in LGBTQ domestic violence and our clinical support for LGBTQ survivors, too.
While we have educated teens in the schools for many years, this year we will be teaming up with Rape Trauma Services to offer a more robust curriculum to keep teens safe and support teen victims of intimate relationship abuse. And, in order to better meet folks where the need is, we will provide community-based support in East Palo Alto where, for a variety of reasons, those who may need help would especially benefit from meeting with an advocate face-to-face in their own neighborhood.
I am inspired time and again by the resilience and courage of survivors. I am also grateful to be able to offer assistance to those who feel hopeless, but who, with our help, realize they are not alone, that abuse is not their fault, and who create new lives for themselves and their children. Because really, once they’ve got the legal support or housing they need, or a warm welcome from someone who really understands what they’ve been through, what we really offer is hope.
After this past election, I believe we need hope, or what some have even called â€œradical hope.â€ As the award-winning writer, Junot Diaz said, â€œRadical hope is our best weapon against despair, even when despair seems justifiable; it makes the survival of the end of your world possible. Only radical hope could have imagined people like us into existence. And I believe that it will help us create a better, more loving future.”
Onward into this very exciting, hopeful year. Together, we’ll transform lives â€“ lives worth living, futures worth embracing.