Elected in 2013, as Cape Coral, FL’s first woman mayor, Marni Sawicki served the state of Florida’s 8th largest city from 2013 to 2017.
Her life changed forever on June 24, 2017 while attending a gathering for the US Conference of Mayors. With over 250 mayors in attendance, her ex-husband violently assaulted her exposing their abusive relationship publicly for the first time. Pleading guilty to a third-degree felony charge of "battery by strangulation", he received only one year of community control, and three years probation. Even with a master’s degree she found it difficult to manage through the emotions, and make sense of the abuse, which effected her health, finances, and professional standing in the community.
Marni refused to run from the experience. She vowed to use her voice to help others by advocating for legislative changes, and educating others on the cycle of abuse, victim shaming, and the effects of not having access to credit, therapy, money, job training, housing, and employment. From her own personal experiences, she understands the impact abuse can have on victims, family, and friends.
With roughly 45,000 women and children affected by the trauma of domestic violence in Lee County alone, there is an urgent and immediate need for transitional services after emergency assistance is no longer available. Transitioning and empowering women and children from victim to survivor IS the missing step in our community! “Filling in the gap” between emergency assistance and a full recovery is critical to breaking the cycle of abuse.
To learn more about her story go to www.MarniSawicki.com.
To save the lives of women and children who are survivors of domestic violence by empowering and guiding them through their journey to finally break the cycle of abuse once and for all.
To provide transitional services to domestic violence survivors and their children once they no longer qualify for emergency assistance. Our services are meant to empower and transform women’s lives so they can successfully leave their abusive situation forever.
We will create the largest and most comprehensive, safe, and accepting community of support that arms survivors with the life skills to empower them to navigate through the difficult process of ultimate healing of their mind, body, and soul.
We are a compassionate, empathetic warrior-minded community committed to helping survivors of domestic violence break free from their abuser once and for all. We understand the services we provide save lives, and help to heal and educate our community on the long-term effects of abuse on women and children.
In Lee County 7,763 women and 6,576 children (14,000+) sought out emergency services for domestic violence in 2017.
- 6,575 children is equal to the TOTAL student population of the top 3 largest high schools in Lee County combined. The impact on our children is staggering!
- 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.
- In 2017, Lee County reported 3,108 incidents of Domestic Violence offenses.
- Only 25% of physical assaults perpetrated against women are reported to the police.
- 94-99% of domestic violence survivors have also experienced economic abuse.
- The average cost of emergency care is $948 per visit. ($3- $7MM in potential healthcare costs within our community)
Nationally, among female victims that needed services during their lifetime, studies show 44.9% had no access to emergency OR transitional services.
Clearly, there is a need to better understand the barriers to receiving these services. Specifically, there is a need for an improved understanding of whether the barriers are largely due to lack of availability or other factors that lead to a victim choosing not to access available services.
While statistics show a disproportionate number of lower income victims using emergency services, this is not necessarily true. Oftentimes society’s expectations of women considered highly successful prevent or discourage them from speaking out. Programs such as financial planning, yoga, group therapy, and job training in a non-judgmental environment would allow for further understanding of the need in our community.
In addition, while women of higher income may not openly discuss their experiences, being involved with a program such as this could help heal past wounds by allowing them to assist others.
There are five main areas where services are in demand after emergency assistance is no longer available. Through grants, partnerships with volunteers in the community, along with private funding, these services can quickly become a reality.
1. A moderated forum for victims to express their needs and gain support from a supportive community of other survivors and trained professionals.
2. Group therapy for women and children
3. Self-empowerment and Self-discovery
4. Transportation options
If you're not sure how this project will impact our community, please take a look at some of the messages and emails sent to Mayor Sawicki within the last year!