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Posted June 05, 2017 in Uncategorized

“Wow, what a welcome,” said Dr. Rondi Walker, Chairman of the 21st Knock Out Abuse Gala at The Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC.  “I mean, what kind of woman gets that kind of entrance?”  She was, of course, referring to Dancing with the Stars celebrity Maksim Chmerkovskiy who whisked her onto the stage to the strands of Frank Sinatra’s I Could Have Danced All Night.

“Domestic violence is simply violence. It can’t see the difference between education, race, religion, gender, culture, age, or financial status. Violence is blind.”

Dr. Rondi Walker PresentingDr. Rondi Walker

“We all want to believe that we are different and special,” she emphasized.   But, falling into an abusive and controlling relationship can happen to any one of us in this room. It happened to me. I have been supporting ‘Knock Out Abuse’ for 19 years. However, all those years ago, I never would have imagined I would have been standing on this stage in front of all of you. Domestic violence is isolating, and too often viewed as shameful. I, like millions of other women in these situations, became an expert at creating a facade. I lived the lie. I knew for a long time that I was in a volatile and violent relationship. What I couldn’t admit was that I was in an abusive relationship.”

Dr. Rondi Walker Presenting

“The biggest first step is admitting the abuse to yourself,” she added.  “The next step is telling someone that you can trust. You cannot face this disease alone, or in silence, or in shame. It comes down to a choice. I chose to live.

The healing process is long and it’s complex. Hope is a very important part of this process. Hope allowed me to create a strong foundation of support, not only emotional, but to cope with the sheer practicalities of daily life. From hope comes perseverance and courage, the courage to relinquish the shackles of control and to regain control of your own destiny. Fear is the abuser’s weapon. They deploy it whenever it seems they’re losing control. But, if you can find the strength to regain control over your own self-worth, you’ve started the healing process. Then, and only then, can you begin the process of moving forward.  

I am thankful that I heard these messages of hope and courage at numerous ‘Knock Out’ galas. It brought abuse to the table. It became OK to talk about it, OK to reach out for help from friends, family, professionals, and even to my children. I’m grateful to my ‘Knock Out’ family for bringing awareness around this issue. Thank all of you for your unending support and continued quest to end domestic violence.”

KOA Stage

“We have a very honored guest who is the recipient of our first Break The Silence Award,” announced MC Andrea Roane.  “This is an award that recognizes individuals who leverage their platforms to raise awareness of domestic violence and enact change in our communities. Governor Terry McAuliffe formed a task force to combat sexual assault. It was one of the first things he did when he came in to office, signing this executive order.”

“It is my distinct pleasure to present this award to Governor Terry McAuliffe,” added Cheryl Masri who co-founded the organization with Jill Sorensen. “The Governor and his lovely wife Dorothy have been ardent supporters of ‘Knock Out Abuse’ for many, many years. We are proud to present the first annualBreak The Silence Award to my good friend and The Governor of Virginia.”

Governor Terry McAuliffe Speaking

Governor Terry McAuliffe

“I just want to thank you for this award,” responded Governor McAuliffe.  “It was just a year ago that I got elected Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  I promised when I ran for Governor that I would be a brick wall to protect women’s rights in the Commonwealth of Virginia. When I got elected they were on the verge of shutting down all the women’s clinics in Virginia. For many women, this was their only avenue for critical health care.  So I’m proud to stand here today 10 months in office and tell you that not one single woman’s health clinic will close while I’m Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. I’m leading the fight.”

“But most importantly,” he continued, “all of us as Governors deal with the issues of domestic abuse issue in this country. I want to recognize the first lady of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Dorothy McAuliffe, who is here with me tonight. This is a very serious issue that we all deal with. You are making us a better country today by being here tonight and providing the funds necessary. We ought to make sure that every one of our children who goes away to school, and specifically our young women who go off to college, that we have a safe environment.

I promise you as the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, we will make sure, as we are doing today, that we are a global leader. I am going to end sexual assault in the Commonwealth of Virginia; you have my word on that. Thank you very much for this award.”