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Charity event puts spotlight on domestic violence

Torre hosts annual Safe at Home Foundation Golf and Tennis Classic

SCARBOROUGH, N.Y. -- Back in December 1995, Joe Torre found himself standing in front of a room full of strangers at a Life Success seminar, crying as he divulged details of the abuse that existed in his home growing up as a child. Until then, he kept those feelings to himself, continuously intensifying the pain.

About seven years later, Torre and his wife Ali started the Safe at Home Foundation. He wanted to save other children from experiencing the type of trauma he dealt with.

"The more people we can make aware of the abuse that's going on around the country -- and the world, actually -- I think we'll engage more people," said Torre, the executive vice president for baseball operations for Major League Baseball.

Torre held his annual Safe at Home Foundation Golf and Tennis Classic at Sleepy Hollow Country Club on Wednesday. The foundation aims to raise awareness of domestic violence while giving children who might be a suffering a place to go for help and comfort.

Safe at Home has placed "safe rooms" called Margaret's place -- named after Torre's mother -- in eight schools in the New York City area and two in Los Angeles. Each is staffed with a master's level counselor and offers children the opportunity to discuss their feelings or simply relax in a healthy environment.

"The one thing we want to let them know is they're not alone -- there are other kids in there -- and the fact that it's not their fault, what's going on," Torre said. "To me, I think that frees them up somewhat."

That's something Torre didn't experience until that Cincinnati seminar, just two months before he put on a Yankee uniform for the first time as manager.

Torre's father, who was a New York City police officer, physically abused Torre's mother and verbally abused Torre and his four siblings. Torre felt as if he was at fault, and that burden resulted in nervousness at school and diminished self-esteem.

But Torre had baseball, which served as an escape. For many children suffering a similar fate, they don't have anywhere to hide. Torre is hoping to change that.

Many of Torre's former teammates, players, coaches and fellow managers have supported the Safe at Home Foundation and some played in his golf classic on Wednesday. They included Bob Gibson, Tony La Russa, David Cone and Willie Randolph, among others. All of them want to help Torre promote the foundation's goals.

"I've been supporting Joe and Safe at Home for a long time," said Randolph, who served on Torre's coaching staff with the Yankees. "It just means your support, love for what he's doing, raising as much money as we can to continue to send home the message."

Ali Torre said she believes that those who suffer from abuse often suffer alone. She saw how it affected her husband, who rarely spoke about his father. After the seminar, Joe changed.

When they decided to create a foundation, his choice cause was domestic violence. Torre was finally ready to speak openly not only about the issue, but how deeply it affected him personally.

"It evolves over time," Ali said. "It's a process that takes courage and support from other people to come to terms with it, to discuss it."

Joe said early in the foundation's existence, he visited a school and started speaking to students about his own experiences growing up. As he spoke, he saw children nodding their heads. Torre said it "struck a nerve."

Ever since, his message has continued to spread. He said the foundation has reached more than 30,000 children since the beginning. Torre's hope is to reach even more, saving then from having to harbor the same feelings and the same pain he dealt with for far too long.

"That's the important thing for us," Torre said, "and of course raising money so we continue our work."

Chris Iseman is an associate reporter for