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Partnership plans second event

A Suffolk church will continue its partnership with local agencies focusing on domestic violence later this month.

The United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women of Main Street United Methodist Church held their first event focusing on domestic violence in November in partnership with the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office.

“It was a powerful event,” said Meredith Travers, a domestic violence prosecutor in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. “We do hope the numbers continue to grow and the message continues to spread.”

The first event focused on how the church can help victims of domestic violence. The next event, set for Jan. 23, will look at how domestic violence affects children.

“The victims that I think suffer the most are the children,” Travers said. “That’s not at all to diminish the effect on the intimate partner that’s being abused, but (the children are) so vulnerable.”

The event will feature guest speaker Kelsie Weidenhammer, a children’s counselor for the YWCA. She specializes in serving children who have suffered trauma, especially children of abuse or homelessness.

Focusing on how domestic violence affects children is especially important in order to break the cycle of abuse. Children who witness abuse often grow up to become abusers or victims.

“You have to break the cycle, and to break the cycle you have to educate and inform the public of the effects on the children,” Travers said.

Often, Travers said, an abused partner wants to stay in the relationship for the children. It often takes a lot for them to see that the children are also being affected.

“The child is witnessing all of the abuse,” said Brittany Landon, a victim/witness assistant director in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office who focuses on domestic violence.

The upcoming event will include a panel discussion including Travers, Landon and Tashaunna Hilton of the Genieve Shelter. They will be able to answer questions such as what domestic violence is, what to do if one suspects abuse in a child’s home and what services the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office offers to children, including children who may have to testify in a domestic violence case.

Sharon Slate of the United Methodist Women said the series is important, because it brings home the issue of domestic violence.

“For most people, it’s something that happens to someone else, not to you,” Slate said.

The series is an important project of the church, she added.

“This is what we’re called to do,” Slate said.

Travers agreed that the partnership is important.

“Even if just one person finds their voice, that’s enough,” she said.

The event will begin at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at the church.

Reservations are requested and can be made by calling 539-8751 or emailing mainstreet@mainstumc.org. The church is located at 202 N. Main St.