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Young women are empowered at conference

caines | 10/11/2012, 5:30 a.m.

Freedom looks good on me, a young woman proudly sang at the Womens Empowerment Expo on Saturday, while women and even some men clapped and sang along. The event, which was held at the Overtown Youth Center and sponsored by the Adding Doses of Hope Daily (ADHD) Foundation, was created to bring awareness to domestic violence and to also encourage, empowerment and elevate women. Donata Joseph, director of the event and of the ADHD foundation, survived a 7-year physically abusive marriage and was proud to share that she made it out. Im taking my mess and turning it into a message, she said to the audience. Her message was informative and helpful to numerous attendees. Jacqueline M. Dawson, M.S., mental health and substance abuse therapist, spoke of warning signs of abusive relationships, saying that abusive relationships are all about power and control. She shared alarming statistics of domestic violence, such as 1 in 4 women have been affected by domestic violence. Dawson spoke of different types of abuse, like physical, verbal, sexual and financial. She encouraged women who were in abusive relationships to call 211 for help on escaping. She said when leaving an abusive relationship women must have a safety plan. Natacha Alabre, 29, an elementary school teacher who attended, said she was encouraged to continue trying to help her loved one who is currently in an abusive relationship, even though trying to help her loved one has been difficult. She said the event has taught her that she should keep trying and possibly try a different approach. While sharing her story, Joseph, said domestic violence victims go through vicious cycles when they want to leave but end up going back. "One day between your positive words and prayers you may help the person," Joseph said. Another attendee, Jessica Dorsainvil, 31, human resources manager, said she enjoyed seeing her good friend, Joseph, make it out of the abusive relationship. Joseph has even helped her end a relationship that had the potential to be abusive. Marie Joasil, 33, a member of ADHD, said she learned to never judge victims of abusive relationships. She said from now on she will try to see it from the victims' eyes and try to help them by being empathic. The host of the event, Tragil Wade, the president of the Wade's World Foundation and also the sister of NBA basketball player Dwayne Wade, shared her story of how she escaped an abusive relationship as teenager. She also sadly discussed that her cousin wasnt as fortunate to make it out of an abusive relationship. Her cousin, who was a "beautiful" model, was murdered by her abuser at the age of 29. The event was full of emotions, there were people crying and even moments of laughter, according to Wade. Those emotions represent that something was being done, she said. Im big at saying if one person was changed thats good. But I had more than one person who came up and said [the event] was big for them. While sharing her story, Joseph said her father was her rock and he helped her get out of an abusive relationship. She said he provided a safe space for her and her children. He encouraged Joseph to leave her home in Tampa and live with him in Miami. Her father, Serge Joesph, 64, said she was in a situation where only God could help her. This is why he encouraged her to pray and he prayed and fasted for her and helped her as much as he could. If you are helping someone in that position, you have to do it in a smart way, with love, he said. By Malika A. Wrightmwright@miamitimesonline.com