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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH

Victims have advocate in Wesley Shelter

Posted on October 14, 2021

Updated on October 15, 2021

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Participants hold signs bringing awareness to domestic violence issues during the Wesley Shelter's Silent Walk in 2019.

Olivia Neeley | Times file photo

Participants hold signs bringing awareness to domestic violence issues during the Wesley Shelter's Silent Walk in 2019.

olivia@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7879

Domestic violence is an issue year-round, but in October, advocates work to shine a light on the problems that exist here and in every community.

While many suffer in silence, they don’t have to. Instead, victims can become survivors with the hope and help advocates provide.

The Wesley Shelter, Wilson County’s domestic violence and sexual response agency, works to stop the cycle of violence and walks with victims through the various stages of leaving an abusive relationship.

“When you hear people say, ‘Why don’t you just leave?’ it’s not that easy,” said Cherie Lindsay-Chapman, the Wesley Shelter’s new executive director.

She said domestic violence victims, whether women or men, go back to their abusers for various reasons.

“We’re talking about fleeing an unsafe situation,” she said. “And sometimes you are fleeing with nothing but the clothes on your back. You don’t have time to get a birth certificate. You don’t have time to pack clothes. You are leaving with nothing. If your perpetrator is the sole breadwinner of the house, that means you’ve left all money behind.”

When victims do decide to leave, officials hope they know the Wesley Shelter will support them every step along the way.

“Advocates will sit down with you,” Lindsay-Chapman said. “We don’t walk forward, we walk with our clients.”

One in three women and one and four men have experienced some form of physical violence from an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Domestic violence can take on many forms including verbal, emotional and psychological abuse.

“I think a lot of times, other forms of abuse are underscored,” Lindsay-Chapman said. “Bruises can go away, but when someone is gaslighting you, when someone is causing you emotional abuse, sometimes those scars stay for a really, really long time. Emotional abuse hurts just as much.”

Lindsay-Chapman said with domestic violence, advocates have to treat the whole person. That’s why the agency offers a wide range of resources, including on-site therapy and an attorney who helps clients with various needs including child custody issues and protective orders. The agency also helps clients find jobs and provides transportation.

‘WE WALK WITH YOU’

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity for the community to celebrate those who have left abusive relationships. 

The Wesley Shelter served 61 women and children this past year, providing 1,562 nights of shelter and serving nearly 5,000 meals. Those numbers were lower than usual due to COVID-19. The shelter also helped 607 families, which equals nearly 1,300 women, children and men who were victims of domestic and sexual violence, obtain help with court advocacy, temporary restraining orders, protective orders, safety planning and support through the civil and criminal legal systems.

Nearly 600 clients received help with clothing, food, baby and school supplies as well as furniture and home start-up kits.

“In a world where rainbows and unicorns reign supreme, there would be no domestic violence,” Lindsay-Chapman said. “There would be no sexual assault. But unfortunately, we don’t live in that world. Our job is to always be present. When you walk past our door and that door locks behind you, we’re going to protect you at all costs. We walk with you.”

Lindsay-Chapman said it’s important for victims to know the Wesley Shelter and its advocates are there 24/7.

HOW TO SHOW SUPPORT

The agency has several virtual events this month. Officials hope the Wilson community will show its support for victims and survivors of domestic violence by wearing purple, snapping a photo and tagging @wesleyshelterinc on Facebook and Instagram to win a Wesley Shelter T-shirt.

A livestreamed “Ask an Advocate” event is planned for 6 p.m. Oct. 26. Participants can ask questions anonymously. For more information on this month’s events, visit wesleyshelter.org/dvam.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic/partner abuse or sexual assault, call the Wesley Shelter at 252-291-2344. All calls are confidential, and trained staff members are available 24 hours a day. Bilingual advocates are also available. The Wesley Shelter is a United Way agency.

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