The Retreat does serious work, but when it’s time to party, it can throw out all the stops as well.
The Artists Against Abuse gala on June 22 at the Ross School in Bridgehampton will have a flower-power 1960s theme with dance music by The Fabulous Sixties Rock Show Band. There will also be the auctioning off of a tall, spindly sculpture by William King worth $35,000 as well as other works of art and VIP tickets to the season finale of “Dancing With the Stars,” lunch prepared by Ina Garten in the Contessa’s very own East Hampton barn and a one-week stay for six on the French Riviera with a professional cook at whom to snap one’s fingers.
Then there are cocktails, games of chance, a wine ring toss, food stations and an open bar, a silent auction–and of course the names. Christie’s Fine Art Auction House auctioneer Sara Friedlander will run the live auction. Radio and television personality Ann Liguori will host the event. Following in the footsteps of Kelsey Grammer and Debra Messing, who appeared at the gala in previous years, Mel Gibson’s ex-girlfriend, domestic abuse survivor and singer-songwriter Oksana Grigorieva will attend to speak about domestic abuse, whose victims the Retreat has been serving in East Hampton for 26 years.
“You should never feel alone when you are in fear,” Ms. Grigorieva said in a press release. “I am very honored to be a part of the Artists Against Abuse. It is truly a cause that is close to my heart.”
In 2011, Ms. Grigorieva accused Mr. Gibson, with whom she had a child, of beating her, and he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to three years’ probation.
The Retreat’s executive director, Jeffrey Friedman, said he’d heard her being interviewed and thought parts of her story were “very reminiscent of the clients we work with.”
“More often than not, we hear with high-profile cases always questions … about victim-blaming,” Mr. Friedman said. “There will be this horrible case of abuse that comes about—and we hear from the media, ‘What did she do to bring this on?’”
He observed a similar pattern with Chris Brown and Rihanna, he said. “When I went on a lot of these entertainment news websites and there were comments underneath, the comments were really harsh on Rihanna, questioning her character and what did she do to bring that on to herself,” he said. “The bottom line is: abuse is not OK.”
Mr. Friedman said it was very clear that Ms. Grigorieva “understands the issue, that this epidemic resonates with her and she wants to help.”
“And what better way?” he asked rhetorically. “To bring her notoriety to really shine the light on this epidemic and provide a voice to all those women who don’t have one.”
Not only does domestic violence happen behind closed doors, but people tend to flinch from confronting it because it’s difficult to hear about or to see. According to Mr. Friedman, there are almost two dozen animal shelters on eastern Long Island and just one shelter for victims of domestic violence.
“It says something about our priorities,” he said, especially considering that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. The Retreat receives upwards of 4,000 calls on its hotline each year, according to Mr. Friedman.
Over 18 years, the annual gala has raised close to $2 million, helping more than 15,000 families, according to a press release from The Retreat. But Mr. Friedman said it was “really a celebration of all the women and children we’ve helped” as well as of the community that makes that possible.
The gala will run from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, at the Ross School’s lower campus on Butter Lane. Ticket information can be found at www.ArtistsAgainstAbuse.org, and auction items, including Mr. King’s sculpture, which will go to the highest online or live bidder, can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/ViewAuctionItems.