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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

Elishia Perosa Talks Changing the World for Victims of Domestic Violence

{Image Credit: Resiliance iAM}

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), nearly 20 people every minute are abused by an intimate partner in the United States. In a year’s time, that equals more than 10 million women and men. It’s a grim statistic, not one that actress Elishia Perosa every thought much about much less thought would ever apply to any part of her life.

But on July 14, 2016 Perosa’s life changed. Persoa, who had previously been an actress appearing in television shows such as Supernatural and Psych, became a victim of a severe incident of domestic violence and became one of those millions whose lives are impacted by domestic violence, but instead of being just a statistic, Persoa decided to do something to change the world. In February 2017, Persoa created Resilience iAM, a financial aid organization for victims of violent crime in Canada.

“It started because I myself was a victim a year ago in the summer of 2016 and I went through this system or lack thereof where there was no help,” Perosa explained. “I had to do all of the running around even though I should have been resting.”

Having to go through a series of processes in order to get assistance and justice is not uncommon within the legal and medical system, but for victims of intimate partner violence those challenges can be exacerbated by serious injury as well as the emotional and financial challenges. For Persoa, her experience attempting to navigate the system revealed to her a need that she thought she could help meet.

“I couldn’t really move or anything so I was in pretty bad shape, but still if you want to get somewhere with what’s being done to you, you have to get up and get going because the system … it’s really slow. And they don’t move for you. You have to move for them,” Perosa said. “By the time it was all over, my situation, the court everything was done by January 27th and I was thinking to myself ‘how can I fix this?’ So, I came up with the idea of this organization and it became Resiliance iAM.

Resiliance iAM has a straightforward mission: to strengthen the community response to immediately help victims move from vulnerability to feeling and being safe and empowered.

“Resiliance iAM itself is financial aid. It actually has three divisions so one is for women, one’s for children and one is for the earth — that’s being developed. It’s not really in play right now. For women and children, it’s financial aid that basically jumps in immediately to help survivors of severe violent crime,” Perosa explained.

But the efforts of the organization don’t stop with financial assistance. Persoa doesn’t just want to help victims transition to survivors in the present day, but she wants to bring the conversation to the next generation and into public awareness as well.

“I decided to structure it [Resiliance iAM] so it would be more appealing to the next generation. A lot of our platforms … and thank the heavens that they are in place and that they are there, but the community-based organizatiosn have been there since time and they have so much work and they don’t have time to remarket themselves and modernize themselves. I feel that it’s a factor that adds to the topic [of violence against women] being brushed under the rug,” Perosa explained.

“It’s not approachable and it’s not even approachable to that side to those who are survivors and need to go into shelters and what not, even for myself. Like, the shelters are in the dingiest part of town so it’s like you just keep going through that cycle and though my situation took place in an upper percentile community, it happens in every community.”

So, if difficult, uncompassionate systems and unwelcoming environments are the norm for what survivors of violence face, Persoa and Resiliance iAM want to start the conversation and work on changing not just systems, but the entire way survivors receive services. The organization seeks to completely revolutionize how survivors receive assistance and heal.

“I’m also wanting to create a massive center. It’s going to be called the RIA Centre, it’s a women’s center and it is going to have an emergency unit, here we have one of our top universities is University of British Columbia, or UBC, and it’s going to have the UBC faculty of medicine inside of it. Lululemon is possibly going to jump on board and we’re going to put a yoga center in there and a day care center and hopefully get UBC to do some post-secondary education there and just a safe but strong and modern and gorgeous … like a big campus almost, but it’s not just limited to helping abused women just get up and going. It’s like this big hub but all directed towards, in a safe house, but a massive house.”

To reach this goal, a fundraising gala had originally been scheduled for this fall, but the scope of the project has gotten so much attention from corporations and agencies that the gala is being pushed off to 2018 with a smaller cocktail reception being held in October to get the Vancouver community talking about the project, not just for women and for Canada, but the rest of the world and male victims as well.

And Perosa has big plans about getting everyone involved in the conversation. Her organization is currently working on a PSA involving sports figures to speak out about domestic violence.

“I’ve got our sports teams involved and we’re doing a PSA and we’re recruiting one gentleman from type of each team, so from our hockey team. From our soccer team. From our football team which is something that’s never been done before, and they’re collaborating together to speak upon violence against women and so that at the same time it begins to set a precedence within all the sporting teams.”

Persoa wants to set that precedence beyond Canada’s borders as well. She’s set her sights on helping change the conversation in the United States and Europe as well because, as she sees it, people are people.

“We’re all the same right across the planet and we all have the same problems, just in different shapes and forms sometimes. We deal with similar circumstances quite often. It’s something that needs to come forward right now and we need to change our approach.”

{Image Credit: ResilienceIAM}

For more information on Resiliance iAM, please visit their website, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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