Fashion and beauty may be seen as a typical part of a morning routine, but non-profit Freedom and Fashion uses those materials as tools to empower survivors of domestic violence and other forms of abuse.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Friday morning the non-profit’s executive director Laverne Delgado made a special delivery to empower survivors of domestic violence. She says as a fellow survivor this has become her mission.
“When I would look in the mirror when I was in that marriage, I would not recognize myself. So, the more I started to consciously find myself in fashion in beauty again…when the external represents what we hold inside, things just start clicking and making sense,” Delgado said. “It also communicates to the outside world and helps us send and receive the messages we want.”
For the past six years, thirty-two-year Delgado has helped communicate that
message through Freedom and Fashion, an organization that utilizes fashion and beauty to help women heal from sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking.
“When we utilize fashion and beauty as language, it helps us catalyze that transformation that may not be available otherwise,” Delgado said.
Usually, Delgado and the non-profit hold personal and professional rehabilitation sessions and annually host fashion shows where the survivors are models and the designers behind the looks. Every year they help about 500 women.
Since the pandemic, Delgado has not been able to hold in person meetings with survivors. Instead, she has been delivering the healing tools to them all across Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and our very own Bakersfield. She said the organization did deliveries before, but not at this scope.
“It’s all about meeting the needs: food, water, and shelter clothing,” Delgado said. “We need to get these women and children out of survival mode, but we take pride in providing luxury as well, things that they see as luxury that we may take for granted.”
Louis Gill, CEO of the Kern County Alliance Against Family Violence & Sexual Assault says that the center serves about 2300 survivors of domestic violence every year. They’re on track to serve that many again in 2020, but with this year's added stress of COVID-19 Gill still has had worries.
“I’m concerned that people are not being able to report. I’m concerned that children that have teachers and other adults to put their eyes on them have not been able to,” Gill said. “So, I am worried that there is a silent group of people being harmed out there.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can call the Alliance Against Family Violence & Sexual Assault hotline: 661-327-1091. If you are in immediate danger, the alliance says to call 911 right away.