Masquerade Ball raises money for domestic violence help

Masquerade Ball raises money for domestic violence help

PROVIDENCE - Organizers of an annual fundraising gala for a domestic violence advocacy group and shelter are seeking supporters from northern Rhode Island to attend the event and raise awareness about the cause.

The Sojourner House at 386 Smith St. has been helping victims of domestic violence since 1976. The third annual Masquerade Ball set for Friday, Oct. 11, in the Biltmore Hotel Grand Ballroom raises funds through ticket sales to help support the center.

Tickets are already on sale, and offered half-price, at $50 each, through August.

Audrey Del Prete, who works in relief support at the center overnight and as an advocate at the Statehouse, said with Rhode Island being such a small state, support from those who live outside of Providence are needed to make a collaborative effort to stop the violence and provide safety to victims.

"Unfortunately, it is a problem that affects everyone," Del Prete said.

The Sojourner House, named for Sojourner Truth, has helped more than 55,000 people since it was founded in 1976. It provides services including a drop-in center, counseling for adults and children, community outreach and a safe house for women and children.

Del Prete said a common misconception about domestic violence is that "it is often just an anger issue," rather than an issue of power and control that is shown through emotional, verbal, physical or sexual abuse. The outbursts are often followed by a "honeymoon phase," she said, when the abuser apologizes with gifts and assures it will never happen again.

"This cycle just keeps continuing," Del Prete explained. "That's why people get stuck in these abusive relationships."

There are always red flags, like manipulative, jealous, possessive or insecure behavior even if there is no history of abuse, she said, adding, "To me, it's too late after it happens the first time."

No one can force someone to get help, she said, but the Sojourner House is open, and a 24-hour telephone hotline staffed, when the victim is ready.

But those programs need money. The ball raised nearly $20,000 last year, she said.

Guests wear formal attire and decorative masks for a night of dinner, dancing, live music and a silent auction. There are networking opportunities, and just a chance for people in the community to meet their fellow neighbors, Del Prete said.

"It's a great time for a great cause," she said. "It's for a good cause and it's something different. To me, this is really a blast. It's something that's really fun."

The Sojourner House is looking for sponsors and advertisers for the event and program. Those interested should contact Kerry Bergin, special events coordinator, at kbergin@sojournerri.org.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.sojournerri.org or call 401-861-6191. The 24-Hour Helpline number is 401-765-3232.