Fact: On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
Fact: On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
Fact: Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.
Fact: Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.
All facts provided by: https://ncadv.org/
Facts like those, coupled with painfully relevant personal experiences, led Eleonora Zampatti to create Ode to the Moon. Ode to the Moon is a 501c3 charitable organization focused on breaking the silence to end domestic violence through art, yoga and music.
The NJ Yoga Collective sat down with Zampatti only weeks after a hugely successful yoga and live music event on the beach in Sea Bright, NJ, to discuss her efforts, inspiration and goals for Ode to the Moon.
What was the inspiration behind Ode to the Moon?
The Moon itself. If you look at the Moon, you’ll see how it changes.
Sometimes it is small and slight, just a sliver in the sky. Other nights it is abundant and robust, filled completely with light. The moon helped me to see that even in the darkest moments, when feel your smallest and most vulnerable, you can still find your light. The moon taught me that I could move from a place of fear and vulnerability to strength.
And how did that connect to you, and this huge project you’ve taken on?
I wanted to create a space where people could feel safe, speak freely, express their feelings and ask for help if the needed it. In my experience, there are so many associations and assumptions about abuse. I wanted to guide people, through creative expression, from darkness into the light. To help them unearth the strength to not just survive, but to get the help they need to thrive.
Ode to the Moon uses visual art, yoga and music to raise awareness, inspire people to step up and speak out, to get involved and to cultivate compassion for anyone suffering in silence. This is a topic people want to shy away from; to pretend it isn’t happening right in our own backyards. Ode to the Moon gives victims a voice, offers a clear path to assistance and washes away the shame often attached to abuse.
That’s incredible. What are you successes to date?
My mission took shape in 2014. Since then, Ode to the Moon has raised funds and awareness in NJ, New York and Europe. Major yoga magazines rose up and published phenomenal pieces on Ode to the Moon, including Mantra Yoga + Health, Yoga Magazine, Om Yoga and Lifestyle Magazine, Draze and Yoga Digest. Those publications, plus our amazing local news outlets, put Ode to the Moon at the forefront in the battle against domestic violence.
In 2016, I recognized that Ode to the Moon was ready to grow into a registered 501c3 charitable organization. On the day we applied for 501c3 status, I felt our mission solidified even more. I am proud to say that today we are an official, registered non-profit organization.
Could you share a bit more of your personal story? Clearly this cause is deeply rooted within your heart and soul.
I love the quote, “the moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.” I remember the first time I read those words from Tahereh Mafi’s poem, Shatter Me. My soul trembled. it helped me see how
sad I truly was, how much pain I was in.
You probably wouldn’t have seen me that way, from the outside. I was living in
Manhattan; I was young, healthy and fit, working as a personal trainer and dating the “perfect guy.” He was accomplished, educated, wealthy, well dressed and well behaved man who everybody loved and admired.
My life behind closed doors was frighteningly different from the picture I – we – painted.
I was abused, and it wasn’t the first time I lived with and through abuse. I was lost and my heart was broken. I was ashamed to talk about my past and ashamed to think about my present. At night I cried, feeling trapped in my own sadness and fear. I lived in New York and I was surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people, but I felt so alone. Silence became the cradle of violence and my biggest enemy.
My partner convinced me that I was too sick and vulnerable; he told me that there was no space for the weak ones like me in a city like New York. For so long all I thought was that I really wanted to be a “New-Yorker” and I really wanted to be with him.
Then I discovered yoga and everything changed. It took a long time, but the practice taught me to connect. It taught me that being vulnerable is not a sin but indeed a gift. It taught me that I could heal.
When I started to let go of the fear, I was able to understand my power. I didn’t leave immediately, but it was in my leaving that I was truly able to heal my soul. I came to New Jersey with nothing, but I gained everything. Love, friendship, safety. Today I am lucky enough to wake up every morning surrounded by love, in little home by the Ocean. Every night I can see the New York skyline, illuminated by the moon. It reminds me of how far I’ve come and fuels my passion to keep moving forward.
What’s the greatest lesson? What’s the big takeaway?
Violence is never an answer. Love is.
So how do you pull it all together and raise funds and awareness?
I’ve decided to dedicate myself to helping those who are still trapped in abusivepatterns. Through art and yoga, we practice compassion and love for others and, most importantly, for ourselves. I help others express themselves with and without words, to stop fearing their pasts. Together, we make our ability to overcome the core of our strength. I inspire others to live life with an open heart, trusting in love.
Is Ode to the Moon fully funded with donations?
Yes. Our current model is event based, with donations made during celebrations of yoga, art and music. Our next huge step towards breaking the silence will focus on the creation of an online platform with tools to heal, including online yoga classes and resources for finding out where and how someone can get the help they need, anywhere in the world, without judgment. For that, I am always seeking volunteers who believe in our mission. I would love to work with social media and marketing professionals, videographers, graphic designers, web designers, yoga teachers, and fundraising experts. If you know someone, please send them to me!
We absolutely will. In the meantime, what events are coming up?
I am currently working on a huge event with Monmouth University, as well as a second beachfront class in 2018. Outside of NJ, I plan to bring Ode to the Moon to Milan, New York and Philadelphia next year. The online platform will begin to grow as soon as our volunteer team is in place! I also have a dream of heading into local high schools; I think we can do infinitely more if we mindfully start the conversation about domestic violence earlier.
You can find out more about Eleonora and Ode to the Moon on her website: www.odetothemoon.com.
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