“This is the worst thing to happen to women ever,” Sonya Passi, one of The Advocate's 2019 Champions of Pride, says of the level of domestic abuse in the U.S. and abroad.
One in four women, and one in nine men, will experience severe domestic violence in their lifetime. “It’s a national emergency," Passi says.
In addition to physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, there is also financial abuse. “It’s really, really expensive,” she explains, which lead Passi to create FreeFrom.org, a place to to financially empower survivors of domestic violence, helping them launch businesses, and creating an online self-help compensation tool which, in 2018, helped over 100,000 survivors in California — now Freefrom's expanded the tool to all 50 states.
The Compensation Compass is designed to help survivors understand their options and pursue money they're legally eligible for in order to help cover the costs of harm they've experienced.
It makes the often convoluted process of pursuing compensation accessible by equipping them with the information and support they need to seek economic justice in a matter of minutes.
FreeFrom has also launched a policy lab to springboard other innovative economic justice policies for survivors. Passi says that while there haven’t been enough reliable studies, trends point toward higher rates of domestic violence among LGBTQ people. “We know that trans women experience intimate partner violence in much higher numbers. We know gay men experience intimate partner violence much more than heterosexual men.”
Domestic violence isn’t a queer or straight issue, it’s not a single gender’s issue, and it’s not a private issue. “It’s a public, systemic problem,” Passi says, “and we all are responsible for solving it.”