Newswoman Tamron Hall recently shared with a crowd of 500 people the personal story that led her to advocate for greater awareness about domestic violence.
"This journey of mine is fueled by guilt, to be honest with you," Hall said after telling the story of her sister's tragic death, widely believed to be the result of domestic violence, and voicing her belief that she could have done more to help her sister, Renate, according to a news release from the center.
In 2004, Renate was found face down in her swimming pool with blunt force trauma to the back of her head and torn fingernails. Police ruled her death a homicide, but were not able to make a case against the suspected killer.
Frustrated that her sister kept returning to an abusive relationship, Hall said she finally gave up trying to help her, but now realizes that was a mistake. "I wasn't smart enough; brave enough ... all I know is I failed her. I should have kept calling every day. I could have and I should have."
Hall said she supports organizations such as the center because they have been on the front lines of addressing domestic violence and assisting victims for years, and it is one way for her to learn and to give back. As well, she is highlighting domestic violence and teen dating violence for the "Today" show's "Shine a Light" series this year.
Hall applauded the center, not only for providing services and raising awareness, but also for going further by influencing legislation that has resulted in better laws and positive systems change statewide for those impacted by domestic violence.
During the two-hour luncheon program, the center introduced two new videos: "Crisis Chronicles," which speaks to the impact of domestic violence across the seven communities it serves, and "A Love Letter," which highlights the Mark Nickel Fund for Wilton Families Impacted by Domestic Violence, created by former Wilton resident Marjory Nickel in memory of her son, Mark.
The luncheon raised more than $170,000, which will go toward critical services provided by the agency and will help the center continue its mission to promote the fundamental right of all individuals to be safe in their personal relationships.
In fiscal year 2012-13, the center provided legal, counseling, housing, health and economic empowerment services to 3,431 victims of domestic violence and provided shelter to 437 individuals.
With a professional staff of 45 people who have years of experience and advocacy in the field of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, the agency offers confidential services at no charge, including court and legal services, group and individual counseling, SafeHouses and housing services, children's services, medical advocacy, professional adult trainings, multilingual services, PeaceWorks prevention education, a 24-hour hot line and EsperanzaCT, a Spanish language website and 24-hour phone service line.
The center serves Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton and Weston.