Aurora Perrineau, Chanel Miller Team Up with GoFundMe to Help Fight Domestic Violence
Prominent leaders and speakers are joining forces Tuesday night to help raise awareness and support for domestic violence survivors, many of whom have been forced to shelter in place with their abusers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Call for Courage, hosted by the health and social justice nonprofit Futures Without Violence, will feature more than a dozen speakers who will help raise money for the newly launched Domestic Violence Response Fund, powered by GoFundMe, which will generate support for the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women.
The hour-long event will be livestreamed on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls YouTube channel starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Among those slated to speak is Chanel Miller, whose memoir Know My Name chronicled her 2015 sexual assault by Brock Turner, a former star swimmer at Stanford University, and its subsequent court case. (Turner was found guilty of three felonies for sexually assaulting her outside an on-campus fraternity party in January 2015, and served only three months in county jail.)
Miller, 28, tells PEOPLE she plans to share illustrations that she’s created as a guide to “tapping into our courage to make change” during the event.
“We often underestimate our individual power to influence and uplift others,” she says. “Together, when we are in community, we inspire truth and engagement.”
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Perrineau, 25, tells PEOPLE that Futures Without Violence holds a special place in her heart, as she told her story publicly for the first time at one of the organization’s events in February — something she called “supportive, healing and cathartic.”
“I think I had decided at a certain point that I wasn’t a victim, but a survivor,” she says of getting involved with Call for Courage. “I decided that I didn’t go through everything I did for it to not mean something, and I wanted to figure out how I could turn my situation into something positive, something that could help someone get out of a similar situation or avoid it altogether if possible.”
As the coronavirus continues to claim lives in the United States and across the globe, it’s also exposed a vulnerable population — victims of domestic violence — to even more dangers.
Six months of lockdown measures could lead to more than 31 million incidents of domestic violence across the globe, according to a recent United Nations report, per CBS News.
“It’s a complex issue that isn’t simply answered by just leaving,” says Perrineau. “Especially during this global pandemic, an attempt to leave could mean losing your life… There’s really nowhere to go to feel any kind of safety, not even for just an hour.”
For the When They See Us actress, experiencing domestic violence herself changed her outlook on things, and opened her eyes to the fact that it’s not dependent on things like living situation, upbringing or finances.
“It really can affect anyone at any time,” she says. “And I hope my personal knowledge of it and telling my story can help people who are afraid to get out of domestic violence situations, help others not feel shame and embarrassment around it, and help to educate others to understand by these things happen so we can all support survivors with empathy and dignity.”
For those who feel moved to help, Perrineau says the best thing to do is speak up and begin having “tough” conversations with friends, as well as donating to the Domestic Violence Response Fund. She adds that she hopes the night’s event will inspire people to further educate themselves, and give survivors some comfort in knowing they’re not alone.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.