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October is recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Anyone can become a victim of domestic violence regardless of religion, race, age, gender or income level. It does not discriminate. It can be physical, verbal, emotional or sexual. One in four women reports domestic violence and one in seven men. Ages 18-24 are the most victimized. It is vastly underreported, so there are many more who suffer in silence; afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.
Wesley Shelter is the domestic and sexual violence response agency in Wilson County. For more than 35 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 and how Wesley Shelter can help. 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 may worry about deportation. 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 terrified because they have been threatened with further harm if they tell anyone or that no one will believe them if they do. Often, victims have been isolated from their loved ones or support systems. 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 help victims become survivors and thrivers.
Wesley Shelter’s mission is a big one and we could not do this important work without the help of a very generous and committed community. We are grateful!
You are invited to three powerful events: Oct. 16 at Barton College for Take Back the Night, Oct. 25 at Wilson Community College and Oct. 31 for a Silent Walk to remember victims who lost their lives and to show support to those who survived. Wear purple, the color of domestic violence awareness and one of hope. Thank you.
Lynne M. White
The writer is executive director of the Wesley Shelter.