A flag reading No More Silence honors a domestic violence victim

by Robin Kemp

The “new normal” of COVID-19 precautions isn’t only affecting businesses. It’s also called for quick thinking from nonprofits raising funds and public awareness about domestic violence.

Sisters Empowerment Network, whose annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes event usually brings out hundreds of domestic violence survivors and their allies for a run/walk in Riverdale and a program that packs the gym, is holding a virtual run/walk this year. Registered participants are being asked to pick up their t-shirts Thursday, Oct. 15 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Harper Elementary School, 93 Valley Hill Road SW, Riverdale.

Instead of meeting in person for the event, participants sign up through Race Roster. You can join as an individual or as a team member (The Clayton Crescent invites everyone to join our team!). Then, you have from October 17 through October 28 to complete the 5K walk/run at your chosen pace and place, “around your neighborhood, community park or treadmill.

It’s a different thing, but it’s not a bad thing.

“Actually, it has been great for the most part,” Brown said, “pretty easy other than people reading the instruction e-mails.”

In fact, the virtual race registration has brought in participants who might otherwise not have taken part.

“Oh my God, people have been registering from a number of states,” Brown said. “California, Ohio, Washington, Wyoming, Wisconsin, just to name a few. We have mailed their shirts already.”

Because COVID-19 has forced many people to stay at home instead of going to work or school, Deetra Poindexter of Change 4 Hope, a life skills extension program, says she’s worried about how the kids and teenagers she serves are doing.

“With people forced inside all these months, I am gravely concerned because you can’t see them to know what might be going on and tensions are high with so many struggling to keep their homes and jobs in this uncertainty,” she said.

candlelight

Poindexter and some of her students are holding a candlelight vigil in memory of domestic violence victims on Thursday, Oct. 15 from 6p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the main library on Battlecreek Road in Jonesboro. Social distancing is a must, but ambassadors will hand out resource bags to those who drive through. The event is a joint effort by Change 4 Hope, the Library System of Clayton County, and Southern Crescent Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy.

Poindexter says that she’s seen “kids as young as twelve in relationships demanding to see phones, pushing each other around and getting violent. I’ve also seen the side where parents are crossing lines from discipline to habitual abuse on their kids, which is another form of abuse because it is domestic in the same home.”

She’s also dealt with a teenager who shot his girlfriend, then himself, and remembers a man who abused his wife and kids. “And yes, sometimes, men are also the victims, so we need to create a safe space for them to tell their truth without being ridiculed for ‘letting’ a woman beat on them. Too many people are dying and a single life lost is a life too many.”

Members of the LGBTQ community face special challenges when seeking help for domestic abuse. Some who find the courage to reach out may have to deal with insensitive responses, such as isolation from the community, being shamed or embarrassed about one’s identity, the fear that services will not be offered because of one’s sexual or gender identity, and lack of legal protections that vary from state to state.

Know the signs

Some of the warning signs of domestic abuse include one or more of the following:

  • Telling you that you never do anything right.
  • Showing extreme jealousy of your friends time spent away from them.
  • Preventing or discouraging you from spending time with friends, family members, or peers.
  • Insulting, demeaning, or shaming you, especially in front of other people.
  • Preventing you from making your own decisions, including about working or attending school.
  • Controlling finances in the household without discussion, including taking your money or refusing to provide money for necessary expenses.
  • Pressuring you to have sex or perform sexual acts you’re not comfortable with.
  • Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol.
  • Intimidating you through threatening looks or actions.
  • Insulting your parenting or threatening to harm or take away your children or pets.
  • Intimidating you with weapons like guns, knives, bats, or mace.
  • Destroying your belongings or your home.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, the Clayton County Police urge you to call 911.

You also can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org for help with your situation.

The Securus House Crisis Line can be reached at (770) 961-7233 (SAFE) or (800) 33-HAVEN.

The Network/La Red is a survivor-led service for the LGBTQ community. You can call toll-free at (800) 832-1901.

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