From left, Jayne Sandman, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and Barbara Martin at the Knock Out Abuse Against Women’s annual gala on Thursday in Washington. (Ben Droz)

The night was personal for many in the audience at the Ritz-Carlton on Thursday as hundreds of Washington power brokers gathered in their ball gowns for what was not just another fancy affair (though it certainly was that).

Co-host Barbara Martin, along with her BrandLinkDC business partner, Jayne Sandman, laid the emotional groundwork for the evening in the West End with a deeply personal “off the record” speech that she described as a “a little conversation between you and me.”

The gala’s attendees, including Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), Drybar founder Alli Webb, ABC7’s Jummy Olabanji and Fiola Mare co-owner Maria Trabocchi, took the night’s message — that violence against women is everywhere, including in the discourse of the 2016 presidential campaign — and put their money where their outrage was. At one point, the organization raised $25,000 in just three minutes.