For 30th anniversary Pee Dee Coalition focuses on the future

During October 2017, Pee Dee Coalition, supported in part by United Way, marks major milestones with news of increased focus for the future on preventing interpersonal violence. This October is the 30th anniversary of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month as well as the 30th anniversary of Pee Dee Coalition’s 24-hour hospital response to victims of family violence and sexual assault.

For three decades Coalition-trained advocates have met with victims at hospitals, offering support and resources to assist in their recovery. Crisis intervention, emergency safe shelter and victim services including transitional shelter for women and their children who have left abusive relationships, remain as key components of Coalition work. However, executive director Ellen Hamilton says this is the time to raise awareness and build community capacity to focus on preventing interpersonal violence.

Hamilton says, “Our next step will be organizing and facilitating a community round-table to launch the Alternatives to Violence Project or AVP.”
The project began in 1975 when inmates at Green Haven Prison in New York State asked local Quakers to help them teach incarcerated youth how to resolve conflicts nonviolently.

“This Project was and continues to be enormously effective in teaching individuals, communities, schools, faith- based organizations and those who are incarcerated how to resolve conflict without resorting to manipulation, coercion, or violence,” said Hamilton.

It fits well with Pee Dee Coalition, she says, because AVP like the Coalition is a volunteer-run program. It is also a good fit with Pee Dee Coalition’s existing Alternatives to Violence batterers’ intervention program known as ATV, which will continue its re-education work with court-referred domestic violence offenders.

Interpersonal violence is a common, complex, and consequential public health epidemic. It is a universal issue occurring in every culture and social group. One in every four women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. One in seven men has been victimized similarly and according to UNICEF, the single best predictor of children becoming either perpetrators or victims of domestic violence later in life is whether they grow up in a home where there is domestic violence. Studies from various countries support the findings that rates of abuse are higher among women whose husbands were abused as children or who saw their mothers being abused.

“It’s important to intervene in crisis situations and offer recovery and re-education services,” said Hamilton. “It is equally if not more important to focus more attention and resources on primary prevention of interpersonal violence. That requires participation across the region, which we plan to engage in this next year.”

Author: Duane Childers

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