Port of Long Beach (POLB) employee and domestic violence awareness activist Rupsi Burman founded the Hope in Life Foundation (HILF) in 2013 to empower victims of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) through training and education.
Burman, who had been researching Violence Against Women (VAW) for two years before undergoing 18 months of the Landmark Self-Development Training Sessions, said her desire to start the nonprofit became unstoppable.
Though she's never been a victim herself, Burman told the Post, "It’s really hard to ignore when it is a glaring global, social and human rights issue."
Originally from Ranchi, India, Ruspi moved with her husband to the U.S. to pursue her Masters in Business Administration from Western Carolina University, North Carolina. She began her career at the POLB in 2009, has worked on PORTS (Port Operations and Revenue Tracking System) and is one of four business analysts/project managers in the Information Management Division.
HILF was instituted just months after the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi, India, which, according to CNN, has become a defining case in India’s history.
Burman said the event “shook the world and united the youth of India. The incident occurred 10,000 miles away, ripped my heart, but at the same time gave me hope that there are good human beings who want to end atrocities against women.”
Burman also referred to Eve Ensler’s One Billion Rising, the biggest call to action to end violence against women in human history. The campaign was launched on Valentine’s Day in 2012 and has become a method to combat the harrowing statistic that one in three women globally will be beaten or raped during her lifetime, according to the website.
“[Eve Ensler] is an inspiration not only to me but to millions of women across the globe,” said Burman. “She was abused as a child by her own father but has been able to put the abuse behind her and move on and empower others.”
Now HILF will host its Inaugural Luncheon on Saturday, June 20 at the Long Beach Marriott as part of its first major effort to raise $75,000 to develop a smartphone app that will have the potential to save lives of those in abusive situations as well as open a Walk-In Center to provide guidance and support to those wishing to break their silence and seek help.
Former U.S. Representative of the 33rd Congressional District and keynote speaker Diane Watson will discuss ways to empower women, children and men on ending IPV. Attendees will learn why Watson decided to lobby for federal assistance in combating gang violence and protecting at-risk youth. Diane Miller, an activist and advocate for social justice who launched Project Court Watch, will tell her survivor story firsthand.
In addition, the event will feature Indie Jazz by Samir-Madhumita and Empowerment and Healing through Art by Saumi Nandy, an artist and printmaker.
According to Burman, HILF is looking for cities in Southern California that have a dense and diverse population to locate the Walk-In Center in an effort to serve large numbers from different ethnic backgrounds.
As part of the organization's “Preventative and Proactive Approach,” the Board has also decided to reach out to Long Beach schools to work with children and educate them on love and respect, said Burman.
“Working with victims is ‘after the fact',” she said. “The organization is focused on ending violence before it begins.”
As chair of Task Force Orange County Cities for CEDAW, the United Nations’ Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Burman also works with Elahe Amani, Long Beach resident and Global women’s advocate, reporter and Global-Chair for Women’s Intercultural Network (WIN). According to the release, HILF is leading the 100 Cities for CEDAW project in Orange County and is preparing to meet with Orange County Mayors. The CEDAW project was launched at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 2014.
HILF is also a Cooperation Circle (CC) of United Religions Initiative - Multi Region and is a Council of Organization (COO) of United Nations Association. In this capacity, HILF engages with other local chapters to work on women’s issues, according to the release.
The organization works in communities in and surrounding Orange County, as well as globally, to provide food, raise awareness and to educate.
In a December 2014 Dock Talk article from the POLB, Burman said HILF mostly works with women because “It is important to address the root cause of any problem."
"Education or lack of it is at the bottom of most issues," she said. "If women are empowered and educated, they will pass it along to their children who will strive for the same. In turn, each individual will make the world safe and peaceful.”
Burman cited the statistics published by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), which revealed that one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. According to Burman, an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault and 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women.
“And then there is a less-known fact that men are also abused,” she said. “Approximately 14 percent of men in the U.S. suffer in the hands of their partners." Burman said she also recently read that one in every 10 women in Santa Ana is abused.
"Just as I am moved by the number of cases served in a day, I am equally moved by the unmet requests per day published by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)," she said. "The organization views that as an opportunity to serve and reduce the number of unmet requests related mainly to Counseling, followed by Legal representation and Legal Advocacy."
The terms “Intimate Partner Violence” and “Domestic Violence” are used interchangeably, but Burman would use IPV as the more comprehensive word because it also includes the LGBTQ community, she explained to the Post. She stated that her organization serves everyone irrespective of sexual orientation.
“The focus of the organization is to get victims to get on their feet, realize their potential so that they do not return to where they came from," she said. "Whatever education is required to get them to that point is the goal of the organization.”
Photos of HILF board members and volunteers courtesy of Rupsi Burman.