ACCESS, the nation’s largest Arab American community nonprofit, hosted Thursday night its Domestic Violence Awareness and Treatment Program 11th Annual Dinner, themed Turning Struggle into Strength, at the Bint Jebail Cultural Center in Dearborn.
This year’s remarkable event, attended by approximately 500 guests, was distinguished by exceptional accounts of resilience, and was punctuated by the passionate keynote address of courageous survivor and women’s rights advocate Joyce Dixson-Haskett, who shared her heartbreaking and inspiring story. Dixson-Haskett is a well-known and respected leader in the fight against human trafficking and sexual and domestic abuse. She was imprisoned for 17 years, after being convicted for the murder of the man she was abused by horrifically for years. Through her experience, she shed light on the gravity of domestic and sexual violence.
“The fight is real, and the struggle is real,” Haskett remarked. “This is not across the water—it’s in our own homes; it’s in our backyards. Men are beating their wives and beating their children. Kids are running away and getting picked up. It’s right here; right here in our own backyards, and I’m glad that people are paying attention.”
This year’s dinner was held in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and amid the firestorm of recent press and social media activity around sexual violence. “We come together today against the backdrop of a national conversation about pervasive sexual assault, harassment and violence in Hollywood and the tech industry,” remarked event emcee and ACLU Michigan Deputy Director Rana Elmir. “For many in this room, we know all too well that no industry and no community is immune from this type of violence. In fact, women and girls experience domestic violence and sexual assault at alarming rates, and as organizations like ACCESS combat taboo and dangerous societal norms, the impact of domestic violence and sexual assault on men and boys is also finally being realized.”
For the past 11 years, ACCESS and its supporters have come together through the Domestic Violence Awareness and Treatment Program Annual Dinner to raise awareness about domestic violence and funds to support the many services that ACCESS provides to survivors of abuse. The program offers vital comprehensive medical, psychosocial, economic and legal support to survivors of domestic abuse and their families, and has served more than 150 clients in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties in the past year.
On average, nearly 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner, per minute in the U.S. In the span of a year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. In a single day, ACCESS, along with other Michigan domestic violence support programs provide services to approximately 3,000 survivors.
This support was emphasized in the program remarks of Mona Makki, the Director of ACCESS’ Community Health and Research and Center. “At ACCESS, our work doesn’t stop in our offices,” she said. “We believe in taking our commitment to wherever people need us. This means that we are therapists in schools, lawyers in courtrooms, advocates at the police department, health care professionals in communities and also employment specialists, helping survivors rebuild their independence. Wherever we are needed, we work hard to ensure that we are there.”