One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. This chilling statistic is a reality for Johanna Crawford who grew up in an abusive household. But Crawford refused to just be a statistic and took matters into her own hands. In 2004 Crawford started Web of Benefit, Inc to liberate women from domestic violence.
“We help survivors one-on-one create a life plan and define what their biggest dreams are and then we figure out the steps to get them there,” Crawford explains.
Web of Benefit has a two-step approach to helping women create a life free from domestic violence. The first step for survivors on the ‘Transition to Self-Sufficiency’ is applying for a grant by building a plan for economic survival.
“Grants can only be $600-$700, but we can be very flexible with what the grants are for because we don’t take any public money. We’ve helped get a prosthetic eye, fixing teeth, housing, education, micro-financing, hundreds of laptops; whatever the specific need is,” Crawford explains.
After receiving the grant, survivors become a piece of the Web of Benefit network by adhering to the ‘Pay-it-Forward’ philosophy. Survivors complete three good works for a fellow victim of domestic violence.
“These are women who could not help themselves six months or a year ago, and now they are out there helping other women. Its such a powerful thing for women to know they can help other people,” Crawford adds.
Crawford saw a gap in the attention being given to domestic abuse survivors after volunteering at a domestic violence agency in 2004. A scared and penniless woman explained to Crawford that while fleeing her abusive home, she left behind all the documents she and her children needed to start a new life. Crawford broke agency rules and gave the women $40, which she used to pay for access to her government records. That woman was able to start fresh and create a new life, but she needed that initial help to get started
Crawford remembers thinking, “If I can do that for $40, I have to do it in a bigger way.”
Since that experience, Crawford and her team at Web of Benefit have given grants to more than 1860 survivors totaling over $950,000, touched the lives of more than 7,000 women and their families, and partners with more than 80 organizations in Boston and 25 in Chicago.
“I thought, if I could help 100 women that would be amazing. Now, we’re closing in on 2,000,” Crawford says.
If you know someone like Johanna Crawford dedicating their lives to empowering survivors, nominate them today for the Daily Point of Light Aw