Building STRONGER GENERATIONS for at-risk women

Prescription for Victory Over Violence

january, 2007

An Interview of Dr. Ludy Green from Second Chance, by Mary Lee Kingsley—Mosaic January 2007

Charity, it is said, begins at home. So can violence. Estimates cited on, of incidents of violence against a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend, range from about a million per year in the US “…to three million women who are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend,” and point out that “around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.” Further, experts see a gulf between reported and actual occurrences. Figures quoted by the National Organization of Women state that whereas 572,000 assaults by intimate partners—typically husbands or boyfriends—are officially reported to federal officials … the most conservative estimates indicate two to four million women of all races and classes are battered each year.

Thankfully for women in the D.C. metro-area community, however, those who have been brutalized and brought low by domestic violence have a formidable champion. Dr. Ludy Green has spent the last seventeen years building an arsenal of weapons on their behalf, and in 2002 she founded a nonprofit employment placement service called Second Chance, uniquely engineered to rescue and empower those helpless to help themselves. Dr. Green is armed with a master’s degree in human resources and a doctorate in industrial organizational psychology from George Washington University, fluency in five languages courtesy of an exotic diplomatic upbringing, and the charm and determination of ten. Hardly a Colossus (she stands maybe five-foot two in five-inch heels), she casts a big shadow for a small person, nonetheless. S

econd Chance is Dr. Green’s personal mission, a charity that truly does begin at home, though “second-hand” has no part in it. “I get donations from Neiman-Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom’s, Bloomingdales…” she says. “Everything is brand-new. These women have been through too much already, and they need to build up the confidence that has been destroyed. They each get two new outfits to wear to work, and we have five salons to make sure they look their best.”

Dr. Green—diminutive form impeccably clad, blond tresses exquisitely coiffed—herself serves as a convincing role model for looking one’s best. And for its efficacy in aiding credibility, perhaps. Her commanding air and winning assurance have surely assisted her remarkable track record as community activist; she rose from the humblest of volunteer work in area shelters during her graduate-study years to, earlier this year in her newest capacity on the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women, reporting to the U.S. Attorney General. Along the way, and all in the interest of promoting her cause of helping the hopeless, she has garnered a slew of prestigious service and recognition awards, and high-profile supporters as disparate as Arianna Huffington and George Allen, Eleanor Holmes-Norton and Bob Dole.

Armani “armor” notwithstanding, Dr. Green is far too seasoned to harbor any illusions about the high costs of this long war against domestic violence, and the devastation rippling beyond each toxic relationship into families and surrounding communities. The National Organization of Women, among others tracking such evils, reports that “women who are battered have more than twice the needs and costs than those who are never battered”; consequences include, among the approximately 17 percent of pregnant women who report having been battered (for example) include “…miscarriages, stillbirths and a two-to-four times greater likelihood of bearing a low birth-weight baby. Abused women are disproportionately represented among the homeless and suicide victims,” and a chilling statistic from cites homicide as the primary cause of death among pregnant women.

Victims of domestic violence rarely escape on their own, at least for long. Without the means for an inside-out makeover, one that includes the tools to achieve and maintain inner confidence and outward economic stability, such victims do not stand a chance in resisting attacks both physical and psychological. Few understand this better than Dr. Green, who brings her full knowledge, experience, credentials and charm to bear on the issue. No wonder she brooks no compromise, and insists on the best and most comprehensive of support mechanisms towards leveraging women permanently out of their downward spirals.

Dr. Green’s holistic model for engineering victory for erstwhile victims, far from being extravagant, may have been at the head of the curve. In a recent New Yorker magazine article exploring successes by the microlending of Grameen Bank and its philanthropic ilk, New York University’s Jonathan Morduch emphasizes the desirability of combining financial assistance with initiatives such as education and health care. Money for those lacking any resource is good and necessary, in other words, but without the reinforcement of a support structure, money alone rarely provides sufficient leverage out of dire straits. Lasting rescue typically takes more, and lasting rescue is what Dr. Green seeks to provide through the organization she tirelessly shepherds. Second Chance is geared to provide all manner of support to those who need it, unquestioningly. And close to two hundred women to date can vouch for how well it works. Rescuing lives does not come cheap (except for the services of Dr. Green, who has yet to take a salary herself), but the pay-offs are huge and the alternatives prohibitive. Ask formerly homeless women now commandeering $50,000 salaries if their Second Chance was worth it. After all, they can speak for themselves…now.

© 2006 The World Bank Group, All Rights Reserved.

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