Derby culture is more than just what fans see on the track.
It's about friendships and sisterhood, and women helping women.
Saturday, our team will be collecting items to donate to Safe Harbour Domestic Violence Shelter, and donating profits from a 50/50 raffle to help serve women in Erie, Huron, and Ottawa counties.
It will be the first, of I hope many, to contribute to the efforts, successes, and sometimes failures, of women doing their best to survive abusive relationships.
There are an estimated 40,000 roller derby players across the world, mostly women.
If we apply worldwide estimates, one-third of them likely have experienced some kind of abuse in their lifetime.
I, too, am a survivor of domestic violence.
I never thought it could be me.
And though it only happened a few years ago, it feels like a different lifetime.
He didn't break my jaw or put me in the hospital. We didn't have any children that he could use as pawns in our relationship, and we weren't married.
It was a year-long battle, that started with isolation from my friends and family, moved on to more blatant emotional abuse, and in the end turned physical.
The person who abused me, changed me for life, and left hidden bruises that are long gone.
The emotional pain is not. For a year, I lived in fear that he might come back.
I was lucky.
No matter how many times I try to write this blog, it sounds trite and insignificant.
Then I realize, that's the exposure of being a victim. The shame that comes with the label. Which is why victims of rape, domestic violence, often embrace the term survivor.
By far, I am not speaking for every member of my roller derby team. We all play for different reasons.
I play, because once, I was changed in a significant way.
From that experience, I am stronger person. I'm am more bold. And I'm far from fearless, but I know that I can't change something or be something else without trying.
This weekend our team will be collecting items to fill the baskets that go with the families who finally become stable enough to leave the shelter. This is a call for your contribution. Even if you don't plan on attending the game, please consider dropping off an item or two to donate to the effort.
Families that leave the shelter are often struggling financially. So the staff sends with them the essential home items that can't be purchased with assistance: Shampoo, conditioner, soaps, cleaning supplies, including laundry detergent, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, tissues, and the bath towel, hand towel, wash cloth set the shelter sends with them for every member of the family to have as their own.
I can't change what happened in my life. But I did escape it. Often, many victims won't.
What I can do now, is ask you to help, in some small way.
For more information, call the shelter at 419-626-2200. I'll also field questions, too. I can be reached at 419-609-5853, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope to see you this Saturday. The game starts at 7 p.m. at the Erie County Fairgrounds. Doors open at 6 p.m.
UPDATE: Funcoast ticket giveaway HERE.