The Issue: Americans Abroad Suffering from Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is "a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner," according to a report from the Department of Justice. Domestic violence can include physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats. Domestic violence can affect anyone at anytime, and the more than 7.6 million Americans who live overseas are not immune to its effects.
The Campaign: Reuniting Pets with Survivors of Domestic Violence
All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center to reunite survivors of domestic abuse with their pets. For every $250 raised, the organization can transport one companion animal back to the United States, providing all veterinary exams, shots, kennels, food, and international shipping fees. The pets are then reunited with their owners, who have fled abusive homes abroad for a safer environment back in the U.S.
Though the organization helps an average of 25 survivors return to the U.S. every year, only about 10 pets are brought back. This campaign can prevent those fleeing domestic violence from needing to choose between their safety and their pets.
Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center
Paula Lucas lived in the Middle East with her husband, a Newsweek photojournalist, and their three sons. To family members back in the U.S., her life appeared exciting and glamorous; in reality, it was anything but. Paula was suffering from domestic violence—her children, child abuse—at the hands of her husband. Each day things got progressively worse. When she finally confided this secret to her brother, their attempts to receive help from the State Department and American Embassy proved futile. It wasn't until a chance robbery in Germany divested her husband of his passport and money—effectively locking him out of the country—that Paula got her chance to escape. She hunted down her children's hidden passports and forged her husband's name on a check, securing just enough funds to fly them back to the U.S. It was here, following many years of legal battles and economic hardship, that Paula eventually won her freedom.
Vowing to use her newfound independence to help others, Paula founded American Women Overseas—a crisis line she manned in her living room when not working a full-time job to support her kids. Today, Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center operates 24/7, responding to enquiries from 175 countries and juggling 150 international cases at any one time. Together with the international toll-free crisis line—866-USWOMEN—the center provides advocacy, resources, and tools for abused Americans and their children. It helps secure legal representation for custody battles, and provides funds for emergency needs including rent, utilities, and passports.