When social entrepreneur T’sharin Moncrief found herself trapped in a physical, emotional, and psychologically abusive relationship at the age of 16, she didn’t know how she would escape her situation and suffered in silence. After enduring the abusive behavior for over a decade, Moncrief decided to bravely leave her abuser in an effort to free herself and her children from the toxic environment they were living in. Through her nonprofit organization Women of Refined Gold, she has turned her pain into purpose and is focused on empowering women and families impacted by domestic violence to break free.
Black women are disproportionately impacted by domestic violence. Research shows that domestic violence and homicide rates for African American women are significantly higher than other groups. Moncrief has made it her mission to prevent another Black woman from becoming a statistic. While enduring abuse throughout her teenage years and into adulthood she fell into a deep depression and felt overwhelmingly disconnected from the world. “I was just going through the motions of life. I lost my identity in my relationship. I didn’t know who I was,” she told NewsOne. “I lacked self-worth and I thought that things were never going to change. Even if I left the relationship, I wondered who would want me? I felt damaged. Fear kept me in the relationship longer than I wanted to be.” She was scared to share what was going on in her household with her loved ones because she didn’t know if she was strong enough to leave her relationship. After a coworker suggested that she go to a local church for support, it was there where she connected with other women who had been through similar experiences and saw the power of sisterhood.
Her faith is what gave her the strength to leave her abusive relationship and it’s also what inspired the creation of her organization Women of Refined Gold. The name is derived from the scripture “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Launched in 2013, the Alabama-based organization offers a variety of different programs and resources for women and families who are battling domestic violence including interactive workshops and group support. WORG also provides legal resources and accompanies individuals to court proceedings. The organization started an initiative called the Purple Academy for youth that focuses on topics like self-esteem, bullying, peer pressure, and healthy relationships so they can begin developing a solid sense of self-worth and know when to walk away from relationships that are not healthy. WORG also trains local companies on how to help employees who may be victims of domestic violence. They host an annual empowerment fashion show where domestic violence survivors are featured as models. WORG has served over 100 individuals since its inception.
Moncrief says fear, finances, and children are often factors that keep victims in abusive relationships, and her organization is working hard to turn that around. “We have to begin to break the silence. We have to eliminate the fear of not wanting people to know what’s going on. Silence keeps us sick,” she said. “We also have to deal with root issues. By the time we enter these unhealthy relationships, there could have already been some voids in an individual’s upbringing. Often times when we get older, we get into relationships to try to fill voids that were missing.”
As far as what’s on the horizon for the organization, Moncrief says they will focus on providing resources for women who have developed drug and alcohol addictions as a result of the abuse they have endured. The organization is also launching an initiative called “Beauty Not Bruises” where they will train beauticians on how to become resources for women who encounter domestic violence. She also plans to expand her impact beyond Alabama. Through WORG, Moncrief wants to save lives and drive awareness to the issue. “Domestic violence affects our families, children, and our communities. We want to educate the community on how to have conversations about this issue and how to direct folks who are experiencing domestic violence to resources.”