I was the epitome of someone with First World Problems. I sat in my car Friday afternoon feeling sorry for myself because I had two dates cancel on me in one day. The night before my date had also canceled a few hours before we were set to go salsa dancing. All I needed was a pumpkin spice latte and Mumford Sons playing on my car radio to complete this melodramatic scene.
What was going on? As I closed in on my last dates for this project, I felt utterly defeated. I had come to expect that dates would flake, (thanks to the never ending stream of Tinder options) but after 27 dates I was really tired of this game.
I texted a few friends to let them know I was waving the white flag. I kept reminding myself that this was a self-imposed goal and no one was going to hold it against me if I didn’t make it to all 31 dates.
But after devoting two months of my time and energy to this project, this goal felt more than personal. It wasn’t just dating for the sake of dating. I have raised over $600 for domestic abuse victims but I still felt like I could do so much more. If I reached my goal, maybe that would bring in more donations?
The Domestic Abuse Council of Volusia County has a dedicated staff that works throughout the day and night to provide victims a safe haven. Their work often goes unseen as the shelter is in an undisclosed location and the identities of victims must be protected. They are always in need of additional funding and resources to help women rebuild their lives.
Here’s why I feel so strongly about this cause: If there is no safe haven, women will continue to stay in abuse relationships. And for anyone who has ever found themselves in a cycle of abuse, you know how impossible it is to escape.
Your self-confidence shrinks to zero. You blame yourself for everything. You walk on egg shells. You are always trying to jump through hoops in a situation where you will never win. You live in fear. You are existing in a prison.
Having a safe shelter is just one part of the equation to help these women rebuild their lives. They need a support system, counseling, job training, and transportation. In addition to that there are a lot of things that pop up that the shelter doesn’t always have the funds to cover. When children at the shelter need new shoes for school or a woman needs help with a deposit to get a place of her own, that’s where cash donations can come in.
I could throw a lot of facts and figures at you about domestic violence, but I can speak better from my own experiences and as a journalist who wrote on the issue. And what I’ve discovered is that dv is a silent epidemic and we are often in denial that it’s happening until it’s too late. I covered a story earlier this year of a young women who was murder by her husband. It was her friends who shared with me the warning signs they saw leading up to her death and how they had advised the women to leave her husband. The woman, however, had no financial resources of her own to leave and hoped that things would get better.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all the problems the world. I don’t know how to solve these issues on my own. But by going on 31 dates I figured I could raise awareness about the importance of healthy relationships because dating is where it all begins. And what I can do is try to make my own corner of the world better and hope that it spreads.
Just after throwing in the towel tonight, several people reached out wanting to help me reach my goal of 31 dates. It felt awesome knowing that people understood how important this is to me. I’m still not sure if I will make it to 31, but even if I don’t I’m grateful for this journey.
Want to help celebrate the end of my project and birthday? Head to the Joint, 308 Seabreeze Blvd., in Daytona Beach on Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. for a 1920s cocktail party (yes, you should dress up). Donate any amount to the link below and receive the password to the party. There will be raffle prizes, music and a photo booth.