Understanding Domestic Violence: How the Community Can Help

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Understanding Domestic Violence: How the Community Can Help

Erin McCarthy and Sangeetha Shivaji
Board Members, YWCA Greensboro

Domestic violence-related deaths are a growing problem in the greater Greensboro community.

The most recent victim? Guilford County Schools teacher Laurissa Armstrong, who was shot outside her apartment on Aug. 29, her husband found dead shortly afterwards. Laurissa had requested a domestic violence protection order two times after the couple’s separation. Both requests were denied.

Laurissa is one of seven victims who have died this year. On July 12, Angelique Sylvester was found dead at home. Her boyfriend Donald Johnson, Jr., is charged with her murder. On April 18, Guanghi Lei shot and killed his wife, university employee Yan Wu, and his sister, Bi Fang Lui. Lui’s unborn child died with her.

On March 2, stylist Michal Stutts shot and killed his partner Corry Munson, a foreman at a local manufacturing company. Stutts then committed suicide. On Feb 6, Roberto Guillen shot and killed his wife, Karla Aquillir Ramirez, and then himself.

On Jan. 7, Sandra Palmer shot and killed her son, Maurice Edmonds, II, and herself. She also shot but failed to kill her boyfriend and her daughter.

News & Record reporter Joe Gamm highlighted these stories in his September article, which describes Greensboro’s rise in domestic violence-related deaths in 2013. According to Gamm, three people died as a result of domestic violence in Greensboro in 2012, three in 2011, one in 2010, two in 2009, and four in 2008.

Domestic violence is a devastating, complicated problem that affects us all. It can happen to any of us, regardless of age, education, income, race or gender. There is no “typical victim.” Laurissa was 62. Maurice was 14. Perpetrator Sandra was female. Victim Corry was a 40-year-old male. The cases involved people of Caucasian, African American, Latino, and Chinese descent.

We cannot be silent in the face of this crisis. We must come together as a community and stand against domestic violence. And to do so, we must answer many questions.

What causes domestic violence?  Why does it seem to be on the rise in Greensboro?

What are the warning signs? What do we say if we suspect domestic violence abuse?

What role does the community play, and how can we help as individuals?

What resources are available? How can we support and empower domestic violence survivors?

To help address some of these questions and encourage dialogue about this pressing issue, the YWCA Greensboro will host a community lunch and learn event on Wednesday, Oct. 16. The event features four community experts. Marva J. Edwards is a domestic violence survivor and author of “Bound to Be Free: Breaking Free from Domestic Violence.” Shay Harger directs Victim Services for Family Services of the Piedmont, which sheltered approximately 13,000 Guilford County domestic violence victims in 2012. Dr. Christine Murray directs the Program to Advance Community Responses to Violence Against Women at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Lynn Wright represents the Family Victims Unit formed by the Greensboro Police Department in 2012 to better address the complex dynamics around domestic violence, child abuse, and at-risk youth.

The speakers will inform attendees on the circumstances and frequency of domestic violence occurrences. They will discuss how individual community members can help to prevent domestic violence in Greensboro and Guilford County. They will identify local resources available for survivors and community members who want to help. They will answer your questions.

Through open dialogue, education, and partnerships within the community, we can all become advocates to help end domestic violence.  Wednesday’s lunch, from 12:00 – 1:00pm, is free and open to the public. The YWCA Greensboro hopes to see you there!

Erin McCarthy is Business Development Manager with Krames StayWell, the nation’s largest provider of patient education materials. Sangeetha Shivaji is Media and Communication Manager for the Office of Research and Economic Development at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Erin and Sangeetha both serve on the Board of the YWCA Greensboro, NC.

YWCA Week Without ViolenceThis post is part of the YWCA Week Without Violence™ 2013 Blog Carnival. We invite you to join the dialogue! Post your comment below, share your story and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #ywcaWWV.

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