“One in three women may suffer from abuse and violence in her lifetime. This is an appalling human rights violation, yet it remains one of the invisible and under-recognized pandemics of our time.” Violence against women is an appalling human rights violation. But it is not inevitable. We can put a stop to this.”
– Nicole Kidman

After more than a decade of collaborating to serve the needs of women and families, the Women’s Center and the Family Violence Prevention Center of Orange County decided to merge on July 1, 2012, becoming Compass Center for Women and Families.
“The name Compass Center for Women and Families connotes an organization that helps people find direction in their lives,” says Ann Gerhardt, executive director of the Women’s Center and now Compass Center for Women and Families. “It reflects our collective work to create opportunities for individuals to change the direction of their lives through a variety of paths.”
The Compass Center’s mission is to help individuals and families prevent and end domestic violence and become self-sufficient. We provide domestic violence crisis services, career and financial education, assistance with legal resources, and adolescent empowerment programs. 
The ultimate goal of the merger is to expand services to more individuals and to provide a more complete continuum of services for clients.  “It takes courage to come to Compass Center for help,” says Development Director Marya McNeish.  “We’re really glad clients will no longer have to tell their story twice.” Together the two agencies have served nearly 4,000 clients, 700 of those are domestic violence victims.
The Compass Center helps people like Maria, who entered their financial counseling and support group in serious debt. She met weekly with the group for several weeks, and then maintained a regular schedule with the lead financial counselor for the fifteen month span of the program. She is now in a much better financial state, and is able to set an example for her two college-aged children.
Another client, Jane, was able to escape with her children from an abusive home life when the center helped her get safe, deal with the hardships of restructuring her family and pursue an advanced degree to help with future job prospects.
The Compass Center is currently in the process of extending its bilingual services; the center is hiring a bilingual court advocate, and will be filling an additional bilingual position in the coming months.
“We want prospective clients and community supporters to know we’re ready to help clients who are experiencing a domestic violence crisis issue or who are simply in transition and need our self-sufficiency services,” says Marya McNeish, development director of the Compass Center.
Through Women’s Eyes, By Women’s Hands, Compass Center’s Annual Art Show and Fundraiser, is coming up on March 8 at Top of the Hill.  Compass Center staff is especially inspired by the story of one participating artist who suffered emotional and financial abuse at the hands of her husband for decades.  Doing art has been part of her healing process, and she is contributing several pieces to the show.  They will share her work and the work of nearly 100 other women artists in our sale of $50 “anonymous mini-masterpieces”.  Fortunately and unfortunately at this time the event is currently sold out due to the excitement and passion that our community has for this great organization but, there will be future events so please make sure to visit their website at www.compassctr.org for more information. 

In closing with the recent events that have occurred on the campus of UNC with Landen Gambill and the stories that have been told above domestic violence is not limited to a specific class, race, status or community.  There are people in this community …..yes folks Chapel Hill/Carrboro, NC… maybe neighbors, friends, co-workers who are experiencing these horrific events and I ask that you be cognizant of any signs and act immediately because there are people and organizations out there like this one that care!