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The Voice of the Black Community
United Way Community Challenge

Life and Religion

Courageous SHIFT finances the means to escape intimate abuse
Founder turns personal experience into activism
 
Published Tuesday, December 1, 2020 6:40 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

PHOTO | ALVIN C. JACOBS JR.
Courageous SHIFT founder and CEO Melody Gross established the Eva Lee Parker Fund to help people escape abusive relationships.

Melody Gross wants Black women to have the financial freedom to leave abusive relationships.


The CEO and founder of Courageous SHIFT established the Eva Lee Parker fund to provide financial support to Black women experiencing intimate partner violence. Gross, a domestic violence survivor, founded Courageous SHIFT to advocate for people in similar situations through coaching and consulting. She named the fund in honor of her paternal grandmother, who was also abused, with the intention of raising $50,000 by Jan. 3, Parker’s birthday.

Sanctuary in the City, a Black- and female-led nonprofit that provides accessible and safe spaces for healing to Black, Indigenous and people of color, donated $10,000 to kick off the campaign. Donations and applications for funding can be found on the Courageous SHIFT website.


“This is an aggressive fundraising goal, but violence against Black women in this country is seldom treated with appropriate seriousness or urgency, and Black women in domestic violence situations need immediate help,” Gross said in a statement.


Funding may be used for travel to escape an abuser, car maintenance and gas, damaged goods as well as other non-discretionary needs. Gross decided to focus the fund on providing assistance to Black women as they are three times more likely to experience intimate partner violence than their white counterparts.


Women’s Policy Research reported in 2017 that over 40 percent of Black women experience some form of intimate partner violence during their lifetime. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines intimate partner violence as abuse or aggression occurring in a romantic relationship, including current and former spouses, as well as dating partners. It can range from a single episode to years of abuse. The CDC also reports that one in four women have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner.  


Economic abuse also impacts over 90% of domestic violence survivors, and between 21% and 60% of those experiencing intimate partner violence lose their jobs as a result of an abusive relationship.


“Financial abuse is one of the key factors in why women who are experiencing abuse stay in bad relationships,” Gross said. “The goal of the Eva Lee Parker Fund is to alleviate some of the costs accrued by victims such as changing locks, fixing broken items or travel expenses when trying to escape. As a victim, I told myself many times I couldn’t afford to leave. When I reflect on how hard it must have been for my grandmother, the woman who raised me, knowing it was not financially feasible for her to leave, I know this fund is a necessity.”

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