Dear Rose Fund Supporters and Investors,

My name is Meghan Cawley, I’m a junior at Boston College studying English, and this summer I’m working as an intern at The ROSE Fund. I wanted to share my perspective on my ROSE Fund experience, as well as a great story of a women’s courageous and successful fight for freedom and independence.

My Perspective–I had read the big stories in the news, followed the Rihanna and Chris Brown scandal and was shocked and appalled when I heard the devastating story about the death of the girl from UVA . Domestic violence: it was a word floating somewhere in the back of my mind, occasionally coming to the forefront when the Boston Globe flashed a headline across its front page. Four weeks ago, everything changed. I began my internship at the ROSE Fund where already I have learned a lot. One third of all emergency room visits for women between the ages of 18 – 44 are a direct and immediate result of domestic violence; one in five girls in MA public schools have been hit, kicked, or punched by a dating partner. I learned of all of these staggering statistics wondering just one thing: how could I have not known this? There is no way this happens in my town, not in my neighborhood.

While my internship deals with many aspects of the ROSE Fund, I am currently focusing on communications and outreach. I spend much of my time on the phone talking with the women who have had the courage to get away from their abuser and, based on your support,  have gone on to receive free reconstructive surgery from the ROSE Fund. Right away, all of my former assumptions about domestic violence were shattered. These women could have been anyone from my area; they could live right down the street. These aren’t weak women, rather women who, after their lives have been devastated, have the incredible strength to break both the silence and the powerful cycle of violence. Many of them go far beyond that, helping to advocate and fight for the freedom of other women.  Their stories have humbled me and inspired me .  Nothing I could write could ever be as powerful as hearing these women speak for themselves. So when asked to share a brief story about a ROSE recipient that had shown tremendous courage in a fight for her freedom, and the freedom of others, I had many stories to chose from.  But I felt that one woman’s story was  particularly fitting. Paula Lucas is a true model of hope and inspiration, someone who not only turned her own life around, but has been tireless in her fight for the freedom and independence of domestically abused and oppressed women  all over the world.

A story about fighting for independence and freedom
Every summer, people fire up their grills, break out the fruit salad, and lather up in 50 SPF to celebrate our country’s freedom. The real meaning of the Fourth of July lies somewhere underneath the red, white, and blue bathing suits and the family cookouts. It is a day to celebrate the opportunity and independence that was granted centuries ago.

For years, however, Paula Lucas was not able to partake in these celebrations, and  was not able to see the joy in her three sons’ faces as the sky lit up with fireworks. For a number of years Paula Lucas was living in the United Arab Emirates as a prisoner in her own home to her abusive husband and a male dominated judicial system. Even after her husband drove into a wall going 80 mph as he was hitting Paula, she was defenseless when he checked her out of the hospital against the doctor’s orders.

Paula needed a miracle. By chance, Paula’s husband was detained in Germany for three weeks after some missing paperwork forced him to stay away from his home. Paula seized this opportunity by reaching out to her family in the United States, who believed that Paula was living a privileged life with her wealthy husband. Waking her children up in the middle of the night, Paula was able to escape with her three boys and make it to NYC and then Oregon to live with her sister. After years of custody battles, restraining orders, and divorce hearings, Paula was finally able to experience the independence a strong, confident woman deserves.

In 2003, Paula was honored with  the ROSE Award because of her dedication to breaking the silence and the cycle of domestic violence for herself, her boys, and subsequently the many  other women she had advocated for. Your support for the ROSE Fund enabled Paula to further her work and mission. With the money Paula received from the ROSE Award, she was able to launch a non-profit company called America Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center (www.866uswomen.org). Her  organization, with a 24/7 international hotline, is dedicated to helping  other American women trapped in domestic situations abroad find both the assistance and the strength to leave.  The money that Paula received from the ROSE Fund over seven years ago has continued to expand and touch the lives of many women.  Since its inception, Paula and her organization have assisted hundreds of women in their fight for freedom in over 175 countries! Her amazing efforts have enabled a great number of women to fully understand, appreciate and celebrate the true meaning of the 4th of July celebration this Sunday.

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Friends commonly  ask me if, as part of my ROSE internship, I have a difficult time hearing the horrible stories of domestic violence.  It never gets easier.  Every woman I have talked to that has been hit, punched, stabbed, or even shot by her abuser is as difficult to hear as the first story. However, their stories have inspired me and taught me so much.   I have learned about the strength of the human spirit, the power of hope and that modest investments in the lives of women in need can pay significant dividends for years to come. Paula Lucas and hundreds of other women just like her have had the strength to break the cycle and fight for their freedom and independence. Every day I have the privilege to hear these great stories, the stories of the women who have made it through the worst. It is because of these stories that I feel so lucky to be a part of the ROSE Fund’s mission, and that the July 4th holiday will forever have a deeper meaning for me.

Thank you so much for your continued support, hopefully my perspective and Paula’s story gives you a sense of the impact that you’re contributions are having on these women’s lives.  Have a happy and peaceful Fourth of July celebration!

Warmest Regards,
Meghan Cawley
ROSE Fund Communications Intern

Boston College 2011

* Picture from: http://thepreppyprincess.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/liberty2.jpg

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