One afternoon in early August, three friends arranged to get together for coffee. We had known each other just under a year; we had met the previous summer at a week long camp. The friendship had begun in small spurts, crossing paths at other groups and gatherings for various domestic violence related topics, but slowly it gelled and we found ourselves getting together outside of the official groups. We had found friendship and support, two things each of our lives greatly needed.
This particular coffee date was no different than any that had come before. We sat down, expecting to enjoy each others company on a sunny summer afternoon. Instead what transpired over the next 90 minutes was life-changing and we walked away with a solid plan, scratched onto the back side of a coffee-house napkin. It started with a mini-gripe session, about the complications of our lives and how great services in Hamilton are, but how awkward it sometimes was to access them. We saw a need. Rather than continue to gripe, we devised a solution. And thus, 1 in Four was born.
Over the next month, we met at other coffee shops with WiFi access and we began to give shape to our idea. Each of us was able to bring forward our frustrations about what we saw lacking in negotiating the system -- a central calendar of events and groups, short video clips with answers to Frequently Asked Questions, a blog straight from the mouth of a survivor and all of this found in one easily accessible, central location, kept current and up to date. As these ideas flowed, we also pooled our individual stories and difficulties, sharing tears and the oft heard quip "I wish I'd known that two years ago!" Which only served to solidify our resolve - this site was a service much in need for the entire community.
In short time we resorted to meeting at one another's homes (coffee isn't cheap!) and talking on the phone until late at night. We found software and widgets and themes, we designed graphics and collected data and numbers and dates, we tossed around verbs and synonyms.... Slowly, painstakingly, but MUCH faster than we ever thought possible, www.1infour.ca was real, tangible and live for the world to see.
Now the next important step is to get the word out there... and that's where you come in! If you find what we offer to be useful, helpful or supportive, then we encourage you to recommend us to friends, family and co-workers alike. The only way for us to fill the gap between services and their clients is to get known! If 1 in Four can be a name on the tip of your tongue when discussing domestic violence issues in Hamilton, much in the way Kleenex® has replaced "tissue" or Coke™ has replaced "cola", then we will truly have made the difference we seek.
Our combined personal experiences give us a wealth of knowledge to draw upon, but we still look to you, the users of these services, to fill in the rest of the picture. Domestic violence (DV) can impact many more people than just those physically involved. It spills and seeps into the lives of those closest to the survivors. It certainly has shown an adverse affect on children and can harm friends and family who try to support the victim. 1 in Four strives to be a hub where victims and those who scaffold them can find community resources to help at all stages along the path to healing.
The word is out — Women experiencing violence will not be quiet any longer. 1 in Four is here to connect women and the community services in Hamilton. Shout it from the mountaintops - let your voice be heard!