Posted by Lee Brumitt
January 19, 2023
 
President Eric Bubb enthusiastically welcomed all to the Club with the Camp for Kids. We stood for the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a prayer of patience by Rick Hughes. Nate Vriezelaar was introduced as the newest member of Club 13 followed by a recognition of Mark McCombs’ first anniversary in the Club. President Eric thanked the Women of Rotary for serving as greeters and then reminded all to volunteer for the upcoming Geeks for Kids “Build Day” on February 4. Several have signed up but we need several more volunteers to help build specialized cars for movement-limited children!
 
President-Elect Tom Davis recognized Jessica Stewart as a Paul Harris Fellow. February 16 is a Guest Day at the Club and will feature a presentation by Jon Stephens, President and CEO of Port KC. Please invite guests and remember to register them ahead of the meeting with Mandy. Fireside meetings are taking place at the homes of Matt Meyer (Lee’s Summit), Tony Andresen (Mission Hills), and Marc McCarty (One Park Place, KCMO) on January 31, February 6, and February 9, respectively. Register through Club Runner!
 
President Eric then introduced our speaker, Caroline Hammond, founder and CEO of Safe in Harm’s Way, an online bridge for victims of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is the leading cause of injury to women, and every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner. The news is full of reports about a current or former partner killing in a place of employment or other location, usually through the use of guns. Other instances of abuse often involve abuse to animals and innocent bystanders. Caroline, a well-educated executive in the pharmaceutical industry, was motivated to set up an online resource after she escaped an abusive relationship. She described her own experience to illustrate the typical pattern and cycle abusive relationships take. Caroline rekindled a relationship with a college friend, an executive at a local KC company, and fell in love. Over time, that relationship turned ugly. When faced with abuse, many perpetrators and victims try to restore the loving place the relationship started. However, violence and abuse inevitably returns, and victims find themselves facing difficult and, in some cases, life-saving decisions. In Caroline’s case, after being told her partner had actually offered her up for sex with other people, she knew it was time to formulate a plan to escape. That escape resulted in Caroline living in her car for months in an effort to stay hidden. Her experience eventually led Caroline to form safeinharmsway.org to provide resources to others facing abusive situations. She spoke about the importance of third parties believing the victim’s story. In Caroline’s case, a treating physician believed her story and helped protect her from further abuse. She discussed the importance of believing, community support, empathy and inclusion, and safety to victims.
 
Those using the online resources offered by Safe in Harm’s Way has accelerated greatly through the use of billboard displays, including in Times Square, and Caroline’s guest appearances on Oprah and other shows. Such tools have been used to launch and educate victims on additional online resources, including thelastimsorry.com, feeling.small.com, and uninterruptedstories.org.  Other digital resources shared by Caroline included deleteme.com which eliminates any online presence a person might have and victimsvoice.app which assists people in documenting the right information to for obtaining protection, seeking legal justice, and helping prosecutors hold abusers accountable.
 
After the presentation, President Eric read a quote from Muhammad Ali, “If my mind can conceive it, if my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it.” The meeting ended after saying the “Four Way Test” together. We left admiring Caroline Hammond and the difference her work is making in helping protect victims of domestic abuse.
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