Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.
Ezra 10:4 (NIV)
My heart breaks every time I hear a story of domestic violence. In October 2014, I participated in Take Back the Night, a candlelight vigil and walk to honor women, men and children who have survived violent crime and to remember victims of rape, murder and domestic violence, on the Louisiana State University campus. Watching the community of Baton Rouge come together was amazing. I was with two dynamic United Methodist Women members—former director Kathleen Conrad and South Central Jurisdiction President Edna Hickman Brown.
The event brought together students, campus organizations and community workers to raise awareness of these horrendous acts. Survivors shared about the questioning looks they received when filing charges. They told how the investigating officers made them feel dirty and less than human. One student shared her experience of being beaten and raped by a man whom she had been intimate with before and thus felt he was entitled to her body. The male officers she reported the rape to interrogated her as though she were asking for the rape. I felt a tear roll down my face as I thought of how abused women are violated again by the those who are meant to serve and protect.
Ladies, we must step up and make a difference as our sisters are being destroyed mentally, spiritually and physically. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Let’s step up our compassionate spirit of being available for those needing and seeking help.
I am always excited to be at United Methodist Women events. It’s nice to reconnect with the sisterhood of United Methodist Women. Recently, not long after leaving one of these events, a United Methodist Women friend shared that her sister had been murdered through domestic violence.
“I think, maybe if my sister had known that was not alone, she wouldn’t have stayed in the relationship that killed her,” my friend said. “I have a renewed passion for fighting violence, domestic and otherwise.”
When violence hits close to home you realize that so much more needs to be done to end it. This is why I am so proud of the work we are doing surrounding domestic violence. Please visit www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/domestic-violence to learn more.
Step up: It’s what we do. The national office works to provide educational material to give greater insight into how to help women, children and youth cope with domestic violence. I am encouraging all United Methodist Women units, circles, groups, district, and conferences to do just one thing for the battered women shelter in your area, such as gift cards to grocery and department stores, phone cards, new bras and underwear, and toiletries and feminine products. Reach out to the shelter and see what they need.
Let’s Make It Happen.
YVETTE KIM RICHARDS
United Methodist Women
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