Twahna Harris (center) alongside a group of supporters during a march to bring awareness to the devastating impacts of domestic violence. “We saw this as an opportunity to shed light on the things happening here in our city,” Harris says, “sending a clear message to Baton Rouge that we stand with victims of domestic violence.” Photo by Keshawn Miller

Giving Back: The Butterfly Society

When Twahna Harris came across a large group of butterflies on her daily walk one summer morning, she knew it was a message from God. “They were breathtaking, coming in every color you can fathom,” she says, “And when I saw them again the next morning, I knew it meant something.”

Although the topic of domestic violence has always weighed heavily on her heart, being a survivor herself, after searching the internet for the symbolism of butterflies, she found what she considers her true calling: nonprofit work. “New beginnings are what they stand for,” Harris says, “which is exactly what we try to give the victims we help through The Butterfly Society.”

Harris established The Butterfly Society 10 years ago with a focus on supporting women and children impacted by domestic violence locally through advocacy, outreach, education and victim assistance. In the years since, Harris and her team have worked to grow their network in order to offer more resources to the individuals they work to uplift.

In October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, The Butterfly Society plans to host another march, along with the organization’s 10th annual Purple Affair Gala to raise money for the group’s programs. Photo by Keshawn Miller

“We give women a voice when they don’t have one and give them hope by helping them find their strength,” Harris says, noting that she knows firsthand how isolating situations like this can be. When Harris finally shared with a relative the abuse she was experiencing as a freshman in college, they replied with, “What can I do to help?” Now, Harris is paying it forward by offering that same unwavering support to women in need through The Butterfly Society.

“That’s what we are—just here to help in any way that we can, whether that be safety planning or providing resources like assistance with rent, hotel stays, clothing, food, gas cards and more,” Harris says, explaining that if The Butterfly Society is unable to offer a service, the group has an extensive list of local partners that are willing to help, including IRIS Domestic Violence Center, Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge, the YMCA and more.

“If we help to save someone’s life, that’s all that matters,” Harris says. “We do it because we are passionate about this cause, and when you find what you love to do, it doesn’t feel like work.”

With many of the group’s volunteers being survivors themselves, they understand the severity of these situations and the emotions that underlie them. In addition, they also all share a common desire to bring the violence to an end. “We’re constantly trying to figure out how to do that, but it all starts with showing up,” Harris says.

The organization focuses on meeting victims where they are, from schools to churches and everywhere in between. By hosting self-defense classes with the Baton Rouge Police Department and speaking in schools on how to identify abusive relationship warning signs and setting boundaries, Harris is not only empowering victims but teaching women how to prevent themselves from getting into a dangerous situation in the first place.

Over the past 10 years, Harris says she has been amazed and humbled by the number of lives the organization has been able to impact despite such humble beginnings.

“I admit it can definitely get heavy sometimes,” she says. “And I’m always asking myself, Am I doing enough? Am I doing it the right way? Every year from the moment we kicked off in 2014, we have continued to add more pieces of the puzzle to the organization, making it what it is today. The community believes in who we are, and I know that it’s because of our compassion, commitment and the incredible people we have in this. It’s only by the grace of God and everyone he’s brought along the way to make this come to fruition.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, The Butterfly Society is just a call away at (225) 345-7725. To learn more, visit