April 11th I left for Indiana. I arrived in Indiana and had the chance to drive into Michigan and visit family before going to South Bend on the 12th. I made the drive back from Michigan to South Bend and arrived at the St. Mary’s Inn. I will admit, this was of course after taking the wrong direction and getting lost therefore going approximately 30 more miles out of my way. The next morning I was met by Connie Adams my contact person for my events in South Bend. First thing we went and got some coffee and headed for the local YWCA where I was going to have the chance to speak some of the ladies that have been either in or through the shelter process escaping a violent relationship. As I was waiting for everyone to arrive and meeting different people I knew almost instantly it was going to really be a great morning. Sometimes I get nervous, yes I do believe it or not. Anyhow, I began by sharing some of my story and telling the ladies that I knew without any question the strength it took for them to make the decision they did to go to a shelter and that I truly honor their decision. After having the chance to speak and interact with the ladies it was time to leave to St. Mary’s College for lunch. We arrived at the school and it was evident it was lunch time as everyone was heading into the Cafeteria. Connie took me to a back room area where I was introduced briefly to the Belles Against Violence Office members and we proceeded into the Cafeteria to get our food and return to the break room where we initially met.
During the lunch hour I had the chance to get to know the young ladies of the Belles Against Violence Office and what they are hoping to accomplish by being a part of the program they have decided to be a part of. I was absolutely impressed by these ladies and how it was abundantly clear in their dialog with me that it is about “opening dialog” and letting other women know that violence against women is not only wrong, but that they wanted those who have experienced it or know someone who is, that they are their for them, that they can be accessed and really, truly care about making a difference. Determined young ladies making change! It was time to head out back to my hotel which by the way was directly across the street for a brief time since I was going to speak to an afternoon class. I arrived for the afternoon class and it was so great to have the chance to speak to these young ladies, I further challenged them to attend the eveing event and bring a friend with them that might not otherwise have attended. After speaking to the class for an hour actually a bit more, by the way, thanks you Ms. Sanali for allowing me the opportunity to speak with your class.
Once again, I returned to my hotel to prepare for the evening event. I arrived for the evening event excited and ready to set-up the table with information and the addresses for the ladies who are in the film. The film began and almost towards the end there was a snaf-foo that did not allow the DVD to finish. I began speaking and incorporated the Red Flag Campaign into the event. There was an awesome amount of attendees as well as a few young men. After the evening, during the Q&A panel which included staff from the YWCA, SOS-an aspect of the Family Justice Center and myself. There were some good questions asked and everyone was informed about the Take back the night event that Norte Dame and St. Mary’s College were considered points of light, how awesome!! I was touched by this event in a way I never imagined possible and I want to thank each and everyone who is not only a part of Belles Against Violence Office, but who made the choice to attend the event to have their voice be heard and make a difference. Hope to return again!