Trek Everest with Ann Oppenheim

I did the climbing and many of you got 100% behind me and did some donating for a great cause. Successfully took on the adventure of climbing on Mt. Everest. To make the most of this incredible opportunity, I thought that fundraising for a worthy cause, to send a victim of domestic violence to an empowerment retreat, would make this adventure more meaningful--and it has. Mission accomplished and thank you!

When you have been through something traumatic, in one sense, you have been given a gift. You are uniquely qualified to help somebody else in that similar situation.  

Many of you have supported me in so many loving ways over the past few years. Your friendship, patience, agency, and love has been, frankly, humbling and overwhelming. As you know, when I summited Kilimanjaro, my motivation for the climb was to physically exhaust myself and to try to leave this pent-up anger that I was experiencing on the mountain so that I could move-on with my life. It helped, but I still had more work to do. Time helped, too. It becomes clear that something very important has been denied. When I climbed the Incan Trail on my way to Machu Picchu, metaphorically like giving myself wings, I climbed to free myself, which I did. I'm happy now. 

I have been very disappointed. It has been painful, but I know now that I can help other people who have been in my shoes. I'm motivated to pay my blessings forward. Together, we are going to directly help another human being who is going through a tough situation that I can relate to.  This time, with your help, I climbed a tall mountain for someone else. And I also brought awareness to a cause that I care deeply about. I am not wasting my pain and healing another moment. Some experiences help us grow, mature, and come up higher. 

Here’s what’s going on:

I just set my hiking boots on Mt. Everest and climbed with the specific goal to send a woman in need, a woman who has been a victim of domestic abuse to a highly sought after all-woman empowerment retreat to help her create necessary, life-changing results. I attended this retreat. And because it was so effective in shifting my paradigm, I want to directly support and help another woman get back on track with her life.
The purpose of this “gofundme” project is to raise cash and awareness for a topic that I care deeply about: the damaging, longstanding effects that domestic abuse has on its victims. When I reached Everest Base Camp, I met my fundraising goal though I ascended a bit higher up the crushed glacier mouth Khumba Icefall and the Western CVM while sick with high-altitude pulmonary edema, the Khumba cough, and a fever. All funds raised after the "gofundme" mandatory expenses will be used to send a select woman to the same retreat that helped me— including tuition, room and board. So that this victim of domestic abuse has skin-in-the-game, she will agree to pay for her travel expenses. If it is in your heart, you can still also donate anonymously if you are concerned about an abusive individual seeing your support. 

I believe that helping in such a direct manner is the most efficient way to give back. If you feel moved by this project, please contribute- even if it is a token amount. Your donations cheered me on and motivated me as I tackled the world’s highest mountain. 
Here’s why-- which is always the most important question to be answered--lets shed some light on this issue:I am committed to women's safety and helping them live extraordinary lives. Adversity does not have to ruin a woman's life. We should not be complicit or silently accept that intimidation, physical, psychological, emotional and financial abuse quietly hides in our communities. Bad people create their own hell on earth. I would rather focus on helping the victims. 

For those who have not experienced domestic abuse, it is difficult to understand why the survivor in an abusive relationship might stay with their abuser. Leaving an abusive relationship is much easier said than done. Statistics show that women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the first two weeks after leaving an abusive relationship than during the relationship. Simply put, women primarily stay out of fear.

Living under suboptimal conditions takes a toll on the abused psychologically. The literature clearly states that narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths crave control and power while their codependents crave security. When survivors of abuse eventually speak about their experiences, they are often asked the question, “Why didn’t you just leave, or what took you so long?” While those asking the question may be well-intended, survivors of domestic abuse often feel shame or confusion.

Surviving victims of domestic abuse are heroes. Often their reasons for staying are motivated by love, commitment, responsibility, faith, strength, lack of the financial ability to leave, selflessness, denial and blind optimism. On average, it takes a survivor 7-8 attempts to leave their abusive partner before it is successfully accomplished. Domestic violence experts say that the risk of domestic homicide is at its highest when a survivor attempts to leave an abuser because an abuser may try to escalate their power and control tactics to force a person to stay.

The only people who truly understand the complexities of any given relationship are those people in the relationship. Many survivors of abuse become stuck in cycles or patterns of emotional, financial, physical, and mental manipulation and exploitation which are difficult to escape from. Issues of low self esteem, codependency, and abandonment, to name a few, can plague victims for years if they do not seek the appropriate help.

This is why what I accomplished is so important. One person at a time, a difference can be made. We do not need to know the individual in need. We just need to offer the help.  
It is very difficult to understand unkindness and unfairness when we believe our hearts are in the right place.  I had to put my life's work, time, effort, heart,  hopes and dreams in the hands of my faith one evening when I miraculously picked myself up from a cold floor. Some moments define our spirit. It is a miracle that I am alive to type this. I was already dead on that floor before a person pushed me down and hands crushed my neck. I wasn't really living under suboptimal conditions. When G-d hears us cry and sees that we trust our faith and are willing to give up certain things, the true plan for our life begins to form.  That critic who pushed me down is the same person who in doing so, pushed me up, out and into a better life.

People, I'm awake now to tell you this: we are on this earth to make a difference--doors open, the right people are brought to us, negative becomes positive, and life becomes more full. We climb higher when we embrace our humanity, help others, and carry our mistakes, our vulnerability and humanness as a shield of valor to remind ourselves that if harm can happen to ourselves, it is our obligation to try to make it easier for others. 

Many of us have felt that at times, we are not in the place we thought we would be. The tough times can be the place where we become stronger, the holding pen where we prepare for the life we are supposed to lead. If it is in your heart, you can still support a domestic abuse victim who is in need and deserves her comeback. Please do not feel an obligation to me whatever your decision. Even if you don't donate today, let my strength be your strength if you are ever in need. I'm going forward with this project no matter what. Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy piece. 


Ann Harrisburg Oppenheim 
New York, NY

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