Neighbor saved her from abuse, now Marissa Saunders helps others via Vera House
Syracuse, NY – Marissa Saunders was screaming inside her house for help, but no one heard her.
So she ran outside, barefoot and pregnant, with a child in tow, and knocked on every door, she said.
No one answered until the last door on their block. This neighbor replied. She was the one who helped Saunders save himself.
“She sat down with me. And I went to the hospital with me, ”Saunders said, recalling what happened two decades ago. “What was important was that somebody get up, stand there for me.”
Now Saunders is that someone, along with Emad Rahim. Both are the faces of Vera House White Ribbon Campaign This year. Saunders is the campaign’s first female co-chair.
“It brings a woman’s voice to this conversation,” said Saunders, who is also the vice president of Vera House’s Board of Directors. “As a woman, it’s always been that people didn’t believe me. It gives voices where our voices are not heard and believed. “
Rahim, too, is a victim of domestic violence. He said that he and his mother had been abused and that in their case, too, a neighbor was the one helping them.
Rahim, whose family came to the United States after facing the genocide in Cambodia, said domestic violence is not openly discussed in the refugee community. He worked to open this conversation, he said.
Unlike in previous years, when the White Ribbon Kickoff started with a who’s who breakfast and then filled the streets with walkers, this event will be virtual.
But it made it more accessible to people who might not have been able to do it in person, she said.
And she said some of the men she works with in Africa, through global people’s capacity development ministries, will be able to witness and hear a conversation that is even more taboo in their culture than it is here.
“It creates more opportunities for more awareness, more engagement,” Saunders said. “More autonomy.”
Marnie Eisenstadt writes about people, public affairs and the Syracuse City School District. Contact her anytime E-mail | Twitter| cell 315-470-2246.