Domestic violence remains one of the biggest issues in the United States. Both men and women can be a victim, yet the police, whom the victims often first seek for help, can’t really do a lot for them. With her passion for raising awareness and prevention against domestic violence, Heather Knight, my guest for today’s episode, founded Surviving to Thriving. Surviving to Thriving is an Atlanta-based non-profit organization which aims to provide a long-term sustainability program for victims of domestic violence to help them get their lives back.
Let’s dive into this episode and find out how Heather gets through her mindset journey to find happiness and create ways to help victims of domestic violence to thrive.
[00:01 – 09:29] Opening Segment
Why a non-profit? Why domestic violence? Before she tells us more about what inspired her to found Surviving to Thriving, Heather first takes us back in time with her story of how she was also in an abusive relationship during her high school years. In addition, she also suffered from self-esteem issues then as a result of being with the wrong group of friends. She, however, found her escape when she realized she wanted to become a police officer, graduating from a criminal justice degree and being hired by a department she likes shortly after.
However, although she really loved being a cop, she realized from doing her duties as a police officer that she can’t really do much for victims of domestic violence with this role. Heather later on resigned from her job and went on to become a full time entrepreneur.
At present, Surviving to Thriving’s program is comprised mostly of lifestyle learning courses like budgeting, resume building, job searching, interview skills, self-defense, and a lot of other life skills. Heather and her husband Zack also own multi-family real estate complexes where they house women who are attending their programs.
[11:45- 24:15] Surviving to Thriving
Before she was founder and CEO of her own company, Heather’s first job after graduation was in the Suburb Atlanta Police Department.
Heather shares that being assigned to night shift, when people’s number one reason for calling the police is domestic violence, is the start of her pivotal journey. She also later on shifted to a community policing officer role where she had more experiences dealing with victims of domestic violence. However, Heather also shares the biggest obstacle to helping the victims of domestic violence as an officer. Police officer duties, after all, are really just to respond and report. After that, there’s nothing much they can do for the victims.
Later on, Heather and her husband attended an event called Thrive where Heather learned that there’s always a deeper purpose for your business. And when she thought about these women, she already know what her purpose is going to be. She already know what she wants to do.
[24:16 – 32:59] The Step to the Entrepreneurial Shift
Wanting to help women who are victims of domestic violence yet not being allowed to while she’s still a police officer made Heather frustrated. She has always known that she wants to start a non-profit with her husband, Zack. Unfortunately, this plan got put into the back burner when Zack got deployed. During this time, Heather had to focus on keeping their household and all their other businesses afloat.
Fortunately, Zack came home and told Heather “We gotta do this.” He told her to focus on her own mindset shift from working for the government to being a full-time entrepreneur. He also told her that it’s okay for her to quit her job if she wants to.
Fast forward to earlier this year, they were finally able to pursue their pans. Heather and Zack also started their podcast where they interview survivors of Domestic Violence and are also currently working on organizing their first conference where they plan to invite all their donors and all the people they are servicing right now.
[33:00 – 40:14] Turning Empathy to Solution
Heather talks about some challenges they’re experiencing running their non-profit during Covid. Heather talks about her plans about keeping their donors alive so they can keep on helping more and more victims to restart their lives and thrive.
Since there are a lot of victims of domestic violence in the country, there’s also a chance that you, or someone you know, also know someone who’s a victim. To give us a better idea how we can effectively help someone who’s suffering from domestic violence, Heather shares a few tips how to best approach them. She talks about their main approach for helping victims—they focus on educating them from the outside but looking in.
Lastly, Heather shares another way we can help the victims which we can also remind other people to do—stop victim shaming. And of course, let’s all give them more empathy– this will truly help them get over faster about what they’re experiencing.
[40:15 – 44:07] The FOCUS FIVE Segment
The FOCUS FIVE are five questions I ask every guest on my show. Keep on listening to find out what book Heather gifts most often; who would he talk to if he can get an hour of any person living or dead, from the past or the present, and why; that one thing he believes but most people will disagree with; his morning routine; and lastly, where are the best places we can connect with him online. (See the links below for Heather’s social media links!)
“ One thing I realize from being on the night shift is, the number one call besides silent alarm is domestic violence.” – Heather Knight
“How is domestic violence still one of the biggest issues in the US and how are we not providing enough services to stop this? ” – Heather Knight
“You can’t judge somebody on what they do with the resources that you give them, all you can do is provide them what you feel is necessary and step back.” – Heather Knight
Resources mentioned in the episode:
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