The statistics around domestic violence in America are staggering. Every year, nearly 10 million women and men in the United States experience domestic violence, based on only those reported cases1. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize how common and how far impacting the trauma of domestic violence really is. What’s worse is that roughly 65 percent of victims who come forward report that no one had helped them.
That’s why the No More Foundation is partnering with the YWCA Wheeling, among many other organizations, to raise awareness and close the gap on physical and emotional abuse. NO MORE week, which takes place March 6 – 13 and is now in its ninth year, is a campaign aimed at community education, awareness and involvement to end domestic abuse.
Weelunk had the privilege of interviewing Molly Holden, YWCA Wheeling’s Director of Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP) and Survivors of Trafficking Empowerment Program (STEP), to learn more about NO MORE week, how you can get involved, and what resources are available locally.
“We view it as an opportunity for us to go out into public and get the public more involved in stopping domestic violence in the community. We do a lot of education in schools and other organizations like Northwood. This is an opportunity for us to push out into the community.” – Molly Holden
Interestingly, the YWCA has advocates available in local schools, serving Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties. The advocates are available year-round as a resource for students to promote healthy relationships. Molly said that having these resources available to students is crucial, as teens who observe unhealthy relationships are more likely to step in to abuse themselves. The goal of NO MORE week, and the work of the YWCA advocates in general, is to educate with age-appropriate materials so that teens have more of a chance to develop healthy relationships later in life.
West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito shows her support for No More Week.
Wheeling YWCA staff member, Becky Lanham.
So, how can you get involved?
For those wishing to participate locally, there are a number of upcoming in-person and virtual events scheduled to help with awareness and education, including:
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Awareness Walk and Run at Oglebay. Oglebay has partnered with the YWCA Wheeling to host a walk and run event to help raise awareness for No More Week this Sunday, March 6 at 1 p.m. Those wishing to participate can RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants of the event will be entered to win a $100 VISA gift card. For more information, you can check out the Facebook event.
#Social Media Support. The YWCA encourages community members to print off the No More Week posters, which can be found here. Folks are encouraged to fill in and take a picture with their sign, sharing it to the YWCA social media or sending it directly to Liz Handzus, Marketing and Development Director at the Wheeling YWCA. When sharing your picture on social media, remember to include the hashtag #NoMoreWeek.
Self Defense Class. For International Women’s Day on March 12, the YWCA is hosting a self-defense class in partnership with the Sexual Assault Health Center. Those wishing to participate will need to register through the center. More information on the event can be found here.
Virtual 5K. The No More Foundation is hosting a virtual 5K and encourages community members to complete a run or walk on the route, day, and time that works best for their schedule. You can register and track your progress here. Registration for the 5K ends on March 13.
Finally, there is no doubt that discussing abuse can be a hard conversation. Frankly, it can be incredibly uncomfortable for both victims and allies. Molly suggests that the best approach is to support a friend or loved one who might be experiencing abuse. One of the important points Molly iterated is that people often don’t know how to bring up the conversation.
“If someone discloses abuse and the person responds by telling them to suck it up, they are not going to disclose it again,” Molly explained. This is a really important point for all of us to remember. The key, according to Molly, is to help the person disclosing their experience to feel valid and supported. It is also important to remind victims that:
It is not your fault.
You are not alone.
There are organizations like the YWCA out there that can and want to help.
A feature of abuse that it is important for everyone to keep in mind is that abusers often isolate their victims. So, when a person chooses to reach out, sometimes they are doing so at their breaking point. Be a kind listener. Practicing empathy can go a really long way.
If you have concerns about someone in your life and would like to provide them with resources, the YWCA Wheeling offers a 24/7 crisis hotline at 1-800-698-1247. For more information on the programs and support available through the YWCA Wheeling, or if you have a concern about a teen in your life, please feel free to reach out to Molly at email@example.com.
• Sarah Clark works full-time at an international law firm. A Wheeling resident, she earned her bachelor’s from Ohio University and her master’s in Communication Studies from Ball State University, where she developed her passion for storytelling and skills in project management. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her Dalmatian, Anakin Skywalker, and dabbling in all things poetry and performance.
1 “NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.” The Nation’s Leading Grassroots Voice on Domestic Violence, https://ncadv.org/STATISTICS.