By Audrey Rock
Beverly Hills, CA (The Hollywood Times) 9/28/2018— Face Forward held its 10th anniversary gala September 22nd at the iconic Beverly Wilshire, with fanfare, glamour, and more than a few dignitaries and stars. The non-profit organization, headed by survivor Deborah Alessi and husband Dr. David Alessi, provides pro bono plastic surgery and emotional care for women who have been victimized by domestic violence and human trafficking.
The “La Dolce Vita” themed event raised over $500,000 for the cause. Given that Hollywood powerhouses including Jeremey Piven, Caitlin Jenner, Jay McGraw, Ne-Yo, Sara Gilbert, Lana Parilla, AnaLynn McCord, Sophia Hutchins, and Brigitte Nielsen attended, those numbers are no surprise. The red carpet alone was a lavish celebration of inclusivity and awareness.
Deborah Alessi, wearing a stunning red mermaid gown, said she hopes the current climate as far as awareness of sexual harassment and abuse will help further awareness for domestic violence. “I hope so, for the right reasons,” she told THT before gliding into the event as the center of the entire evening.
15-year-old songstress Willa Amai, who later performed her evocative “Scars”, told THT she feels change is a process; but the outlook is positive. “We are putting in a lot of effort to change, and at this point that’s all we can do,” she said. “Charities like this where everybody is getting together, and we’re trying our hardest—I think that’s what matters most. The fact that charities are doing things like this and raising so much awareness, yes, I think that we will be making changes in the years to come.” Amai admitted she was “kinda nervous,” but excited, as any teenager would be, for her performance.
90210’s AnnaLynn McCord, however, gave perhaps the most candid and uncensored statements concerning violence against women. McCord is the president of Together1Heart, an anti-human trafficking organization supporting Cambodian survivors of sexualized violence and sex trafficking.
“We have to hold hands; we have to support each other,” she told THT. “This is a global issue, it’s in every country of the world. We all have different roles to play in this fight.”
McCord is herself a survivor of sexual abuse, and speaks openly about the fact that it’s her personal proximity to the issue that drives her activism. “I have very personal reasons,” she said. “Going through sexual abuse since I was a child; having these cycles in my life, and how they destroy your relationships. It really harms every aspect of your world until you come to terms with it. And it takes years! Decades.”
McCord alluded to the assertion by President Trump that an abuse survivor would have pressed charges immediately in the event that she were actually abused. “To those of us in the world who would think that if something was terrible enough that you just immediately press charges: you are incorrect. And unless you’ve been raped, unless you’ve been traumatized, you wouldn’t know that. But it’s incorrect. Anyone who has any awareness of the brain, of PTSD, of how memories are blocked out because our biology wants to protect us. Anyone who does any kind of self-education would know that.”
McCord’s personal experience has made her exceptionally passionate; and the amount of time she spends in support of organizations that stand behind victimized women is impressive.
“It’s so crucial that we support the individuals who are coming out with these things,” she said.
The evening, centered around a topic that can feel ugly, was an entirely gorgeous reminder that support and healing can make all the difference. Caitlyn Jenner was honored with the Beacon of Hope award; Jeremey Piven hosted; and Grammy winner Ne Yo performed.
To learn more about Face Forward visit www.faceforwardla.org.