Crowdfunding crisis: $2,060 for a dog, but $0 for many domestic-violence victims
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I lost track of an email last week.
All I knew was it had something to do with domestic violence and a gofundme campaign.
That nugget sent me searching campaigns on the crowdfunding site.
For readers who still don’t know what gofundme is, it is a for-profit Internet company that allows donors to give to a specific cause.
Turns out, the overlooked email had to do with a campaign set up to raise funeral expenses for Jasmine Marie Johnson.
The 25-year-old South Side woman was fatally shot by her boyfriend Dec. 3.
As is often the case, the boyfriend, Derrell Sikes, also fatally shot himself.
As of Monday afternoon, the site had raised $7,535 of the $12,000 goal.
This tragedy probably hit home for a lot of Chicagoans because it occurred within weeks of another domestic-violence tragedy.
Dr. Tamara O’Neal and two others were killed when O’Neal’s ex-fiancé went on a shooting rampage at Mercy Hospital.
Raising money to bury a loved one is a humbling experience and often, an unsuccessful one.
It likely helped that Johnson’s cousin, Jessica Disu, a/k/a FM Supreme, is a local artist and peace activist.
But judging from other campaigns on the site, people appear to be more willing to give when a person has been killed in a domestic-violence incident than when they’ve been injured.
Several domestic-violence campaigns haven’t been able to raise a dime.
For instance, the “Aiding Domestic Violence Victims” site in Chicago Heights that was started in October — the National Awareness Month for domestic violence — raised only $544 of $5,000.
Victims who shared horrific stories of abuse at the hands of an intimate partner fared even worse.
One victim claimed her boyfriend “broke” her fingers, making it impossible for her to work. She got $0 of her $1,000 ask.
A victim who shared that her son’s father “put a gun” to the dog’s head to intimidate them and constantly filed false abuse allegations against her with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services didn’t get a dime.
Another campaign raised only $75 from 4 people in 38 months. That victim’s goal was $1,000.
“I have been a victim of domestic violence for 10 years I recently decided I can’t take anymore and left. The person who was abusing me also threw away all of [my clothing] and my kids’ clothing, he has cut me, broken TVs and video games, cut up pillows and mattresses, choked me, poured drinks on me and disrespected me,” the victim said in her profile.
Frankly, donors seemed to care more about Sapphire the dog.
A total of 74 people raised $2,060 of a $2,000 goal in one month to help a Chicago woman adopt the dog.
“She’s the snuggliest creature on the planet, and has gotten me through the worst year of my life where I lost a job and lost a friend,” the woman wrote.
“Thanks to you she’ll have plenty of hotdogs, peanut butter, treats, and toys,” she posted in an update.
Meanwhile domestic-violence victims, some of whom posted photos of themselves with black eyes and bruises, didn’t get a whole lot of sympathy.
There were exceptions.
A volunteer raised $1,001 from 21 people in two months for “Run Domestic Violence out of town.”
And a campaign for Jan Russell, credited with writing the “book on Illinois Domestic Violence Act for the Illinois State Bar Association,” has raised $10,250 of $51,000 to help pay Russell’s medical bills for chronic illnesses attributed to the abuse.
Rebecca Darr, CEO of WINGS, a program that provides emergency and long-term housing, as well as counseling, for people needing help getting out of a domestic-violence situation, sees the huge need.
“If we want to prevent more Dr. O’Neals from being killed, we need to raise awareness and make sure we have the resources to help them when they do call,” she said.
Darr points out that during the holidays, stress rises but calls actually go down.
“They don’t want to take the kids to the shelter. We have 10 openings, and it is unusual to have that many openings,” she said.
Darr, who has done this work for 20 years, urges police officers intervening in domestic-violence situations to give victims the hotline number so they can talk to someone about what they are dealing with.
“We want [victims] to know how to keep themselves safe during the holidays,” she said.
It may be too late to help these women once they show up on a gofundme page.
Calls are confidential to 877-863-6338.