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Domestic abuse of women rising in downturned economy, locally and nationally

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 21– Empowering abused women to gain financial independence through meaningful employment in a downturned economy is the focus of the “Last Kiss of Summer” gala supporting Second Chance Employment Services, September 23 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington.

Second Chance’s 7th charity gala will help fund the organization’s free career-track job placement, technology training, counseling and other essential career services for women who have been abused or face a high risk of abuse.  The event will be attended by Second Chance clients, partner organizations, politicians and local celebrities looking to increase awareness for domestic violence and provide resources to victims.

This year’s gala will be keynoted by Katie Hnida, the first woman to score in a Division 1-A football game, while placekicking for the University of New Mexico. Before Ms. Hnida started breaking glass ceilings, she was sexually assaulted while playing for the University of Colorado. Today Hnida is an activist and author who travels the country raising awareness of violence against women.

Second Chance is America’s only private nonprofit agency focusing on helping abused women around the U.S. gain meaningful positions with full health benefits. Quality jobs that create financial independence form the lifeline that allows victimized women to permanentlyescape domestic abuse. More than 700 women have found career-track positions through Second Chance.

Economic strain is a chief cause of domestic abuse, and the downturned economy has increased the problem — locally and nationally, says Dr. Ludy Green, president and founder of Second Chance.

“An independent source of income is the single most significant indicator that a woman will be able to permanently leave an abuser,” says the largest study ever conducted on economic security and domestic violence.

Violence among couples with high levels of financial strain is 3 1/2 times higher than among couples with low strain, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In the D.C. area, domestic abuse and neglect cases rose 23 percent in FairfaxCounty in 2009; 29 percent in MontgomeryCounty and 18 percent in the District of Columbia, according to Associated Press reports.

The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department received more than 31,000 domestic-related calls last year — or one call every 17 minutes.

“My frustration with the lack of employment services for abused women inspired the founding of Second Chance,” says Green. “I saw the résumés of too many women with gaps in their employment history get ignored by hiring professionals, and witnessed too many women coming out of domestic violence shelters return to their abusers because they couldn’t find a job that would support themselves and their children.”

Tickets and sponsorships are still available at http://www.scesnet.org/lkos/index.html.  Second Chance offers a discount rate for young professionals attending the gala. For more information, visit Second Chance Employment Services (www.scesnet.org) or contact Nancy Mraz at nmraz@hpproductions-inc.com or 703-356-3099.

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