Becky’s Fund Welcomes Amanda

Hola! My name is Amanda Paulino. I was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, but I recently moved to DC after graduating from college! This May, I got my Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.

Coming from the Dominican Republic, I was raised in a society heavily marked by machismo, in which men felt like they could do whatever they pleased with their spouses because they felt entitled to them. Women dying at the hands of their significant others, unfortunately, is a common occurrence. I have always wanted to make a positive change in others’ lives: When I was eight, I told my third-grade class I wanted to be a women’s rights activist when I grew up. My interest in working with survivors of intimate partner abuse stems from my belief that each and every survivor has the capacity to break the cycle and transform their lives. I am here because I want to make a difference: I want to educate others and change the way they think, and I want to change lives for the better.

I hope that this internship gives me the knowledge and insight required to work at a similar program back home. While I can recall various programs in the past that sought to bring awareness to intimate partner violence, none of them have been particularly successful. Once I gain the experience required, I hope to change the dialogue in Santo Domingo.

Joy Asico (www.asicophoto.com)
Photo credit: Joy Asico (www.asicophoto.com)

Album by Joy: 2016 Walk This Way Album 1
Album by Vithaya Phongsavan: 2016 Walk This Way Album 2
Album by Phil Kogan: 2016 Walk This Way Album 3
Album by Mark Kanawati: 2016 Walk This Way Album 4
Album by Marcus Bennett: 2016 Walk This Way Album 5

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***MEDIA ALERT***
Vernon Davis, Pierre Garçon, Otto Porter Jr., Kelly Oubre Jr., Ali Krieger and more join Becky’s Fund at 8th annual Walk This Way fashion show
Local athletes stand up as role models to break the cycle of domestic violence

Washington, D.C. (December 9, 2016) — Last night, domestic violence prevention nonprofit Becky’s Fund hosted its 8th annual “Walk This Way” charity fashion show at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium. The charity fashion event featured clothing from classic upscale American designer Paul Stuart and women’s designer Alex Teih, worn by D.C.-area pro athletes, including Washington Redskins players Vernon Davis, Pierre Garçon, Chris Baker, Arie Kouandjio and Nick Sundberg, Washington Wizards stars Otto Porter Jr., Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ian Mahinmi, United States Women’s National Soccer team’s Ali Krieger and Crystal Dunn, D.C. United’s Bill Hamid and Marcelo Sarvas, former NFL stars Dhani Jones, Gary Clark, John Booty and Brandon Frye and former U.S. Olympian Giuseppe Lanzone. The female models were styled by One80 Salon and Kingsley Model and Management.

Read the complete press release here.

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On October 7, Rueben and Shivani Dhingra Bajaj hosted an intimate Cigars and Whiskey reception at their beautiful Potomac estate to introduce guests from NY, MD, VA and DC to the amazing work Becky’s Fund is doing to support victims of domestic violence and to break the cycle of violence that passes from generation to generation.

Against a beautiful garden backdrop, these new supporters of Becky’s Fund heard a compelling story from a victim, transformed into a survivor, and encouragement from a former NFL player and mentor to the high school athletes in the Men of Code Program, created by Becky’s Fund and recognized by the White House, the DOJ and ESPN as a model approach to engage young men and boys in the struggle to end domestic and dating violence.

This reception was one of the preliminary events leading up to the 2016 Annual Walk This Way Fashion Event to be held on December 9th at the historic Andrew Mellon Auditorium in DC. Chaired by Shivani Dhingra Bajaj, 2016 Walk This Way will certainly be the must-attend-event of the season for the glamorous and socially responsible in the DMV. Tickets and tables can be purchased at wtwevent.com. Becky’s Fund would like to thank the attendees at the Cigars and Whiskey reception for their time and support, Arian Castañeda for providing the amazing Castaneda cigars, Brian Rayford with walkaboutmedia.us for photographing the event, our volunteers, Erik M. Hicks and the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, for their event support, and Shivani and Rueben Bajaj for opening up their gorgeous home. We look forward to seeing you on December 9th for 2016 Walk This Way!

My name is Haleluya Demeke. I am currently acting director of a budding non-profit, the Kebede Gebremariam Institute, and studying Business Finance in college.

I was born and raised in Ethiopia: an openly, and often disparagingly, patriarchal society with foreseeably damning results on a young girl’s view of the world and where she fits in. Domestic abuse was not only accepted in family homes—it was commended. Coming from such a skewed environment has debilitated many men and women in my country by setting a twisted norm for “solving” household squabbles. I was one of the thankful few to leave the country, enter the United States, and come to see a different standard of my preconceived “norm.” My migration was the catalyst to understanding what most victims of intimate partner abuse feel, display and hide.

Becky’s Fund is an organization that works towards empowering victims of intimate partner abuse by equipping them with the means necessary to break free from the shackles of their unhealthy relationship. My experiences, growing up, have led me to have unwavering passion towards aiding victims of intimate partner abuse. This is why I am excited to embark on the road to recovery with Becky’s Fund—to ascertain that fewer victims have to feel, display and hide the symptoms of their abuse.

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My name is Riya Thekdi, I am currently a graduate student at GW studying forensic science. I love to explore new places, and look forward to getting to know DC.

Becky’s Fund actively works to advocate, gain awareness, and educate victims and prior abusers. By the organization’s acknowledgment of the nuances and cultural influences involved with crime, better solutions are implemented. This insightful way of approaching solutions is why I am interested in working with this organization.

In the future, I hope I will be able to build a career with my forensic science degree. The knowledge I gain from this internship, such as current issues and legal issues, will teach me to react better as a professional.

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My time at Becky’s Fund has given me invaluable skills and experiences that I will be able to take with me as I progress into my professional career. Perhaps my favorite experience from my internship was leading the Becoming Your Own Heroine workshop. When I was a young girl, I had no one to talk to about the questions I had in regards to sex, consent, dating, and sexual assault. Lack of education led to a lot of misinformation and feelings of shame on my part, which shaped my adolescent years. Being able to create open, candid dialogues with these girls meant a lot to me. As I lead the workshop, I saw my younger self in each and everyone of the girls. I am a firm believer that one of the best ways to change our cultural attitudes is through education and outreach. I’m proud to say that I was able to make a difference.

In addition, I also worked on the Take a Stand, Make a Splash swimsuit fashion show fundraiser event. During the summer, I reached out to Lisa Opie of Vizcaya Swimwear, a fellow VCU alum, who agreed to donate her swimwear line to our event. Lisa’s interests intersected with our mission at Becky’s Fund. As a bullying victim, she rose above the negativity and eventually started a women’s empowerment blog. After contacting her, she even decided to feature Becky Lee on her blog. It was truly an honor putting together this event. Unlike other fashion shows, that only show off a certain body type that is often unattainable, this fashion show highlights the strength and diversity of the female body.

I also conducted research about intimate partner violence. As the daughter of two marines, I grew up in the military brat lifestyle. However, I was unaware of the rampant sexual assault problems and the barriers survivors face. Unlike civilian judicial systems, discretion is given mainly to the commanding officer, who often times are close to the perpetrator. Because of this most cases are not even investigated, and often times the survivor will be charged with misconduct, underage drinking, or even be discharged from the military all together. Survivors in the military seem to be one of the most ignored groups and it’s inspired me to look into becoming a victim support advocate.

All in all my time at Becky’s Fund was amazing. This internship solidified my decision to work in the nonprofit world for the rest of my career. I also felt very blessed to be a part of an awesome group of summer interns. This summer I took a few days off to deal with a personal matter and when I came back I saw two cards on my desk: a birthday card and a “thinking of you” card, signed by all the interns. Thanks to Maya, Emily, Meghana, and Andy for making this summer awesome and thank you to Becky for the amazing opportunity.

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The work I have done this summer has been unlike any I’ve done in the past. I’ve been frustrated, sad, and discouraged. But I’ve also been uplifted, happy and hopeful. I am very thankful for my time here and the ways it has strengthened me.

I realized that sexual education is absolutely my passion and that I want to continue with it whether through advocacy or teaching. Working with the football team every week through Men of Code opened my eyes to the lack of knowledge students have about consent and healthy relationships. Though the things they would sometimes say upset me, I was determined to change their minds. Through the surveys we gave during each lesson, I was humbled to see their attitudes shift on these topics. In addition, I rewrote the curriculum for Men of Code to be comprehensive for anyone, regardless of their teaching experience or knowledge of the topic. I am really proud of this project, as it took me the entire summer to complete, and I believe it will really help the program facilitators in the future.

As for the research I conducted through my university, I have learned a lot about the impacts of rape culture on college campuses and the ways it silences victims of dating violence. If our society continues to place blame on survivors and those trapped in cycles of abuse, our ability to help them through the experience and recovery is limited. In particular, the lack of education about consent, relationships, and bystander intervention continue to perpetuate negative attitudes and violence. When I return to campus, I am determined to continue looking at these obstacles in prevention and response as well as work with my university and community to better respond to these situations.

In my time at Becky’s Fund, I have grown as a friend, a mentor and an advocate. I’ve learned I am more than any violence I once faced and I am better than the societal expectations that attempt to silence me and others. I’ve worked with and learned from an incredible team of individuals, all very different from one another, who came together for a greater purpose- to end intimate partner violence. This team has shown me more encouragement, support and love than I ever expected and it makes me sad that I won’t see them all everyday. Yet they have inspired me to change the world, and I’m forever grateful for that.

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My time at Becky’s Fund has been a truly eye-opening and exceptional experience. I remember waking up in June on my first day of work, having no idea what to expect and as nervous as I have been for anything in my life. However, all of my concerns quickly vanished upon my arrival to the office as I was welcomed with open arms by Becky and the other interns. I knew early on that this summer would be unlike anything I have experienced in the past.

I came into the internship knowing that I would be helping to facilitate the Men of Code program, but that was about it. Having minimal experience working with issues surrounding IPV, my initial tasks revolved around researching, studying, and getting acclimated within the field. More specifically, I began by researching collegiate and professional athletes that have perpetrated domestic or sexual violence, and how these cases were handled. Before this, I knew that in some instances, these crimes were swept under the rug by institutions in order to protect the athlete, but I had no idea of the frequency that this occurred. I quickly became aware of many studies and statistics regarding athletes and IPV, and I have been able to bring this new found knowledge to the students in the Men of Code program.

Once the last week of June came, the majority of my time with Becky’s Fund was spent at Friendship Collegiate Academy teaching the Men of Code program. Other than obvious difficulties with attendance due to summer vacation, the program proved to be a transformable experience for not only the boys, but also for my co-facilitator, Malik, and myself. I plan on taking everything that I have learned through my experience with Becky’s Fund and Men of Code back to Dickinson College and my lacrosse team. As men, and leaders on our campus, we have a responsibility to help influence change.

All in all, my time at Becky’s Fund has been very positive. I am extremely grateful for having been given the opportunity to come work at this great organization, and for the amazing people I have had the chance to work alongside with during the summer. I have learned so much during this experience, and I will take everything with me as I continue to navigate through life. I cannot thank Becky enough for this opportunity, and I wish her, and her organization, the best of luck as they continue to make strides in IPV prevention and support.