The STORY of Knock Out Abuse

Welcome to Knock Out Abuse West! We're excited that you have taken the time to stop by to learn more about our organization and how we came about.  When women come together we can make a positive difference.

In 1993 Cheryl Masri and I co-founded Knock Out Abuse Against Women in Washington DC. We wanted get women together to help other women and to raise awareness and funds for victims of domestic violence.  We threw a small dinner for 20 women at Café Milano, a popular Italian restaurant in Georgetown. The dinner was a lot of fun, but not exactly a fund raising hit, so instead we ended up raising 5K in a hat off some people in the bar!  We wanted to spread the word so wrote letters to everyone - every politician, celebrity, TV personality to invite them. We wrote Barbara Bush and randomly mailed it to the White House, only to our surprise receive a handwritten note and a personal $100 check and wishing us luck as one of our very first supporters! 
Artwork at our 25th anniversary.
The following year when Nicole Simpson was murdered, Denise Simpson flew in and shared her sisters terrifying tale of domestic abuse at our event. We got Larry King to narrate a video that we created with footage of OJ’s white bronco fleeing down the highway to Aretha Franklin’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T while the horrifying statistics on domestic violence flashed across the screen.

That night perhaps cemented our Knock Out Abuse event forever. We literally had to force women to go home at 2 am.

Jill Sorensen, Denise Brown, Cheryl Masri 1994

Our event was pretty unconventional...we had drag queen shows, sold t-shirts off fire men’s backs, Tom Cruise look-a-like skits, Lenny Kravitz singing “American Woman” to a wild crowd. Hillary Clinton was there, overwhelmed with emotion to see the incredible energy of the amazing women who attend Knock Out.

Lenny Kravitz, Senator Kristen Gillibrand and Wolf Blitzer at KnockOut Abuse

Every year the dinner doubled in size.  Soon the Knock Out Abuse event was voted more popular than the White house correspondence dinner and we had to have a wait list to get in.

We teamed up with the Redskin football team to be our male hosts and to speak out for victims of abuse. The hosts were a huge hit, and still today the women are escorted down the stairs at the Ritz by local sports celebrities and kind men who donate their time to help.

Knock Out Abuse Gala 2014 Ritz ballroom

Today 25 years later, that little girl's dinner is a huge sisterhood and has become somewhat of a Washington institution. Every year 800 women fill the Ritz Carlton hotel ballroom, and by the end of the evening there are over 2000 women AND men in attendance.

Knock Out Abuse Gala 2009 Ritz ballroom

Knock Out exists and flourishes for one reason - all the great women involved who are passionate about helping other women, and all the brave women who share their stories of survival. 

Over the years we've had incredible speakers and listened to heart wrenching stories of abuse.  Many of them will haunt me forever.

The pregnant woman who was pushed down a staircase, then forced to her knees naked to beg for forgiveness to her husband in front of her children. The woman who was raped daily in front of her five year old son, so her boyfriend could show him who was the boss, only for him to one day cut her son from the waist up leaving her too afraid to go to the police in fear of losing her child. Or Yvette Cade who was denied a restraining order by a laughing judge, only to the next day be doused in gasoline and lit on fire by her husband and suffer burns over 85 percent of her body. Now living the rest of her life in a body sock.

Ellen Blankenstein our former director and incredible supporter.

I’ve listened to the horrific realities that can happen when a woman’s voice is lost and her power has been taken away. Therefore it's vitally important to raise awareness and have a forum where women can speak out against abuse.


When I moved to Los Angeles five years ago Bobbi Chinlund and I spent many hikes discussing the possibility of starting Knock Out Abuse out here in LA . Bobbi grew up in an abusive household where her mother suffered at the hands of an abusive husband. As a child Bobbi and her siblings fled to a shelter with their mother in the middle of the night and knows all to well how terrifying life with an abuser can be. Because of her mother's plight she is committed to helping women avoid the suffering her mother fell victim of.

Bobbi, Jill and Susan

Bobbi brought in firebrand Susan Pfeuffer who might be the best and most effective silent auction organizer and fundraiser in town!  We are thrilled to have her as our Treasurer. Together with these great women, we set up Knock Out Abuse West as a sister 501 c 3 in the state of California.

 We have slowly been building up our committee of amazing women in Los Angeles and are always looking for women who would like to donate their time to help. If you are interested I encourage you to reach out to us!

At one of our very first committee meetings at Susan's house in LA. Bobbi, Susan, Pam Porcaro, Stami, Libby Lydecker, Karen Rafelson, Flavia Carrozi and more.

Here in Los Angeles we are taking a slightly different approach. While we still have an annual gala, SEE LAUNCH EVENT GALLERY HERE, we're also creating monthly community events that function as mini fundraisers. Our speaker series Lived & Learned salons are intimate evenings where trailblazers and women we admire share their triumphs, challenges and wisdom and YOU get to ask the questions.



We also have lots of creative collaboration opportunities so that everyone who wants to make a difference can help raise awareness and funds, so that hopefully 1 in 3 women don't continue to suffer in silence.


Thank You so much for stopping by. I hope you join us, come to any of our events and tell your friends. Women among you might suffer in silence I and encourage to you come and help make a difference. Together we can hopefully one day create a society 100% free of violence against women.

Much Love,
Jill Sorensen,  Co-Founder Knock Out Abuse Against Women


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