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Domestic Violence Awareness Month is here. All races, ages, sexes and socioeconomic levels are affected by domestic violence. It can be physical, verbal, emotional or sexual. One in four women reports domestic violence and one in seven men. It is vastly underreported so there are many more who suffer in silence; afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. We all know, love or work with someone who has been a victim, so it is important to know how to help.
Wesley Shelter is the domestic and sexual violence response agency for Wilson County. For over 34 years, services have been offered to victims and their families. We tailor the services to the need of each family. Some need short-term intervention while others need longer term comprehensive services. Safe shelter, advocacy, legal services, counseling, nursing, classes and more are wrapped around the family.
It is also our responsibility to educate our community so that people will know more about the cycle of violence. On average, a person will leave seven times before making the final break. There are many reasons why victims can’t or won’t leave. They may have no money, no job, no family support or nowhere to go. They worry about losing custody of their children. They stay because they want to believe the abuser when he says he is sorry and promises it won’t happen again. They may feel ashamed or afraid because they have been threatened with further harm if they tell anyone. Often victims have been isolated from their loved ones or support systems and have been told that no one will believe them. Their self-esteem is often diminished by long-term verbal or physical abuse and it is hard to reach out for help.
We do see victims leave and, with assistance, become independent, self-sufficient and safe. Our programs see victims become survivors.
The community is tremendously supportive of Wesley Shelter’s mission and we are grateful to all who help us. Please join us at two powerful events: Oct. 17 at Barton College for the Take Back the Night Vigil and Oct. 31 for a Silent Walk to remember victims who have lost their lives and celebrate those who survived it. Or wear purple, the symbol of domestic violence awareness and one of hope.
Lynne M. White
The writer is executive director of the Wesley Shelter, Inc.