Gabby Petito’s family announces $100,000 donation to domestic violence hotline

FBI

(NEW YORK) — Nearly a year after Gabby Petito’s death, her family has announced a major donation to help victims of domestic violence.

The Gabby Petito Foundation, formed by Petito’s family after his death, donated $100,000 to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which provides free resources and support for people suffering from domestic violence.

“No family should feel the pain we feel every day since we lost Gabby,” Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, said in a statement. “Survivors who are able to reach out should connect with an attorney promptly.”

The hotline said it would use the donated money to hire and train more full-time advocates and use it to “advance its technology infrastructure” so it can respond to more calls and messages online.

Hotline CEO Katie Ray-Jones said the donation comes at a much-needed time due to rising rates of domestic violence throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The donation went to the hotline’s ‘Hope Can’t Wait’ emergency fundraising campaign, which is trying to raise $2 million.

“The volume of Hotline contacts has almost doubled compared to last year; on average, we receive nearly 80,000 incoming calls, chats and texts each month,” Ray-Jones said in a statement. “More than ever, survivors need validation, support and planning for safety, and a connection to resources such as shelter, legal aid, economic assistance and health care.”

She continued: “The generous donation from the Gabby Petito Foundation and all donations to our campaign will help ensure that our critical work continues 24/7 and we can connect with more people affected by domestic violence. .

Petito, 22, disappeared in late August while traveling through Colorado and Utah with then-boyfriend Brian Laundrie, who then disappeared after returning to Florida without Petito.

On September 19, 2021, search teams discovered a body in Bridger-Teton National Park, Wyoming, which was later determined to be Petito’s. An autopsy revealed she died of strangulation, officials said.

Search teams combed through the Florida wetlands where Laundrie was last seen and found her remains at the Carlton Reservation near North Port on October 20, 2021.

In January, the FBI released new details in the investigation into Petito’s death, saying Laundrie wrote that he killed her in his notebook.

Petito’s parents have worked since his death to raise awareness about domestic violence and provide support to those in need.

In his eulogy at his daughter’s funeral, Joseph Petito told mourners, “If there’s a relationship you’re in that may not be the best thing for you, leave it now. . Take care of yourself first.”

The mission of the Gabby Petito Foundation is “to meet the needs of organizations that support the location of missing persons and to provide assistance to organizations that assist victims of domestic violence situations, through strategies of education, awareness and prevention,” according to its website.

Experts note that when cases like Petito’s make the news, although extremely tragic, they can raise awareness of domestic violence and the many forms it can take.

On average, more than one in three women and one in four men will experience rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Young people between the ages of 18 and 24 experience the highest rates of domestic violence, according to Kiersten Stewart, director of public policy and advocacy for Futures Without Violence, a nonprofit focused on ending violence against women. women and children.

“Domestic violence is still a very serious issue,” Stewart told ABC News last year. “As a country, we’ve made great strides over the past 25 years, but we haven’t really reduced homicides that dramatically, and that still needs to be a real priority.”

If you need help or need help helping someone else, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text START at 88788 or chat online at TheHotline.org. All calls are free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7.

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