Vigil Sheds Light On Violence
In recognition of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the YWCA-Family Violence Prevention Program held a candlelight vigil Thursday evening in front of the New Martinsville Municipal Building. Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Haught and Rev. Bruce Taylor, pastor of the Immanuel Baptist Church in New Martinsville, were the special speakers for the event.
While Haught said attendance of a vigil for domestic violence hasn’t improved in 10 years ago, the fight against domestic violence has. “We’ve come a long way,” said Haught, citing changes in law, more people and groups involved, and more advocates. But still he said, “There is so much more that we need to do to combat domestic violence.
“I am reminded of all the occasions in which someone has said ‘Thank you’ to me or (Victim Advocate) Terry Long or police officers or magistrates,” said Haught. “If you can help one person, you’ve accomplished something.”
Haught said a big help in the fight is the new full-time advocate at Magnolia High School. There are 25 students in a peer group there. “I want to applaud them for the work they’re doing,” said Haught. “I’m very pleased that we have an advocate in the schools.”
He also said law enforcement officials have gotten more domestic violence training and the legislature has made some progress in combatting the problem.
“Domestic violence is one of the great evils of this county and this nation,” declared Haught. He encouraged those in attendance to refrain from losing hope and or becoming discouraged.
Taylor approached domestic violence from a Biblical perspective by reading Ephesians 5:17-6:4. “Domestic violence is real. Not only is it real, it is real within the membership of the body of Christ.It affects men as well as women,” said Taylor.
As a pattern of coercive behavior used by one person in order to maintain power and control in a relationship, domestic violence is used by batterers to repeatedly subject their victims to physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and financial tactics of control in order to force them to do something the batterer wants them to do without regard for the victim’s rights or well-being.
“Since the rise of the women’s anti-violence movement in America during the 1960’s, the true horror of domestic violence has begun to be looked at in earnest. It is sad to say, our progress has been really slow,” lamented Taylor. “Domestic violence in many areas, including West Virginia, is considered by many to be a ‘private affair’. No one wants to get involved is a domestic situation.”
Touching on a subject not usually broached when speaking publicly of domestic violence, Taylor said reconciliation is possible. “Jesus’ suffering was about reconciliation between broken relationships,” he pointed out. “We must not think that reconciliation will be quickly coming. The process is slow and requires a great deal of work among all who are involved. There are no simple methods to use and no one particular method can guarantee the desired results. When reconciliation fails, we must be sure to minister to the broken relationships with mercy and grace.
“Reconciliation is not encouraging a person to return to the cycle of abuse with their spouse or partner. Continued abuse means there cannot be a reunion or reconciliation. God’s reconciliation means there is an end to the hostility. it means embracing God’s principles and values.”
Taylor closed by saying there are 18 key words for helping domestic violence victims: “Are you safe? Help me understand. It is not your fault. You deserve better. How can I help?
“We cannot as a community sweep it under the carpet as we mayhave in the past,” said Taylor. “We must let others know it is not only unacceptable behavior but a sin against the victim and against God.”
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence and would like more information, contact the Wetzel County Family Violence Prevention Office at 304-455-6400. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. You may also call the YWCA FVPP 24 hour hotline at 1-800-698-1247.