VCU’s Project Empower presents 'Love Shouldn’t Hurt' open house

The Virginia Commonwealth University Injury & Violence Prevention Program’s Project Empower presents the “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” open house. The event will be a day of awareness and fundraising for intimate partner violence and sexual violence on Valentine’s Day, and will include featured speaker Lisette Johnson, a domestic violence survivor.

The open house will take place on Feb. 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Learning Center at Main Hospital, 1001 E. Byrd St. It is free and open to the public, but media who wish to attend should call the number listed above for more information.

The “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” open house will promote awareness of intimate partner violence and domestic violence. The event will also provide resources to providers, visitors and patients. The featured speaker will discuss her experience with domestic violence, and will be available for media interviews.

More on Lisette Johnson

For Lisette Johnson, raising awareness for the VCU Medical Center’s Injury and Violence Prevention Program’s Project EMPOWER is more than a good cause — it’s a lifesaving opportunity.

“Many of us know someone who is or has been in an abusive relationship – a sister, mother, daughter, cousin, aunt, friend, neighbor or co-worker,” Johnson said. “It is my hope that through sharing my story and working with Project EMPOWER, others will be inspired to understand the complexity of abuse, and support these women.”

She understands the pain and reality of domestic abuse because Johnson was a victim of it herself. In 2009, Johnson’s husband shot her several times before turning the gun on himself. Miraculously, she survived, although he did not.

Now, she helps others to better understand the signs of emotional and physical domestic abuse. She does this through her work with Project EMPOWER, a multidisciplinary hospital-community initiative dedicated to enhancing prevention and intervention services to individuals and their families who experience intimate partner violence or sexual assault.

Johnson will be sharing her personal story with domestic violence during the Project EMPOWER open house.

“This open house will give participants a chance to see what resources the project provides,” said Caitlin Shiflett, partner violence and sexual assault advocate and Project Empower coordinator. “It will also provide a firsthand account of intimate partner violence, which is currently the leading cause of injury and homicide for women.”

Johnson will speak at 12:30 p.m. A silent auction will also be held, along with a bake sale, Valentine card making and community partner resource tables. The community partners include the Victim Witness Program, YWCA, VCU and Richmond Police, and others. All proceeds from the event will benefit survivors through the Crisis Fund, an emergency relief fund for employees and patients experiencing domestic violence, intimate partner violence or sexual assault.