Submitted by The United Methodist Women
A Domestic Violence Awareness program was held in the Family Life Center of the Yadkinville United Methodist Church (YUMC) on Sunday, March 25, from 2-4 p.m.
The United Methodist Women (UMW) sponsored this event. United Methodist Men and Women deemed this social issue a priority in 2011. Their aim is to increase awareness within their congregations and throughout the community, to reach out to those affected, and to maximize available resources.
Domestic violence is a pattern of control over one’s partner/spouse. It can be expressed physically, sexually, emotionally, economically, and/or psychologically. Fear rules the household. Domestic violence affects people of all races, religions, and socioeconomic levels. One in four women will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime. Women comprise 95 percent of victims. In the United States, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners every day. 28 percent of marriages are affected. Nearly 70 percent of children in abusive homes are also being abused. Pets may also be subjected to abuse. The estimated annual U.S. health care cost is $4.1 billion.
At the workshop, Michelle Major Johnson of Hickory was the keynote speaker. Ms. Johnson, a teacher, artist, and mother, is also a survivor of domestic violence. Hers is a true story of courage and hope. She now shares her experience for the benefit of others. On one occasion during her troubled marriage, Ms. Johnson’s husband lashed out at her through the destruction of some of her paintings. During her presentation, Ms. Johnson displayed several of these paintings. Even more powerful were her paintings that captured the emotions she experienced while a victim of abuse. It is important to note that Ms. Johnson and her abuser actually met at their church, where both were in the choir. Churches’ congregations are not unscathed. An estimate of approximately one in three in our pews has either witnessed or been subjected to abuse. Abusers are adept at masking their true nature.
In addition to the keynote speaker, four stations were set up at the workshop for participants to circulate through. Dana Layell of YVEDDI’s Yadkin Domestic Violence Program, which is located on Elm Street, across from the courthouse, occupied the first station. This agency’s mission is to “provide services to victims and their children, to address domestic violence issues, and to assist victims and children to alternative solutions to the problems.” To contact the Yadkin Domestic Violence Program, call 679-2072. Their crisis line is 679-2500. It should be noted that they are in need of volunteers to assist with answering the phone, etc.
At the second station were two employees of the Yadkin County Department of Social Services: Monta Davis-Oliver, Child Protective Services/Work First Social Work Supervisor III, & Susan Helsabeck, Foster Care Social Worker III. Ms. Davis-Oliver and Ms. Helsabeck advised participants that their agency’s foremost responsibility is to protect the children in abusive homes and to assure a safe environment. The challenge is “to keep the children safe without penalizing the non-offending parent/adult.” DSS can be reached at 679-4210.
At the third station two church members, Carolyn Boyd-Smith and Virginia Taylor, recounted their experiences as victims of domestic violence. They stressed the importance of speaking up, as this encourages healing.
At the fourth station, Mildred Carter, President of the Western NC UMW and a member of YUMC, discussed the role of the church in becoming an advocate of victims of domestic violence through speaking up and reaching out.