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Join the effort to help stop domestic violence

In December of 2007, I served a church on the outskirts of Hagerstown, Md. One evening about six days before Christmas, the quiet was broken by sirens and police cars streaking north of our little town towards the Pennsylvania state line. A manhunt was underway for Douglas Wayne Pryor, who had stabbed the mother of his two children, Allison Munson, to death.
After being beaten in November 2007, Munson filed assault charges against Pryor. She also filed domestic violence claims in September 2000, March 2002 and August 2002.
Her family did not know about the abuse until the assault charge in 2007. Fleeing from her apartment, Pryor headed back towards Smithsburg and Ringgold where his family lived.
Responding to the call was Officer Christopher Nicholson, who graduated from the police academy a year earlier and had recently gotten engaged. He went out to the family home and came across Douglas along the way. An altercation ensued and Pryor shot and killed Officer Nicholson.
The evening finally ended in a shootout at the Ringgold Meeting House cemetery. Pryor was injured, arrested and taken to the hospital. Currently, I believe he is serving three life terms in prison. In the wake of this tragedy were the deaths of two individuals and the pain and suffering to many others.
I thought of these events this week as a friend sent me a copy of a news article about how clergy are keeping mostly silent on domestic violence. The article states, “While many religious leaders have been vocal about abortion, same sex marriage and other social concerns, they have remained fairly quiet on one major issue: domestic violence. According to a survey from LifeWay Research which interviewed 1,000 senior pastors of Protestant churches in the U.S., pastors rarely include the topics of domestic and sexual violence in their sermons.”
This reminded me that on July 19, there will be a benefit for the Family Crisis Council of Rowan County’s Battered Women’s Shelter — the third annual Chickweed Festival.
Unfortunately, domestic violence is something that can happen to any person, regardless of religion, race, age or sex. In North Carolina alone this year, there have been 23 murders (according to the NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence website). One of those, the most recent on June 11, happened here in Rowan County.
According to the Family Crisis Council’s website, domestic violence is “any intentional action or non-action which is used to gain and maintain control over another person in an intimate relationship.” Abuse can take many forms. Most people think of physical abuse, but it can be sexual, economic, emotional or psychological in nature as well.
I have seen the victims and have known abusers, and I for one will not be silent on this issue. It is something that can happen to anyone, but there are resources out there both for the victims and for the abusers. In Rowan County, we have the Family Crisis Council. You can call them or go to their website to learn more about domestic violence and what you can do to help stop it. If you are being abused or know someone who is, I urge you to call. If it becomes an immediate safety concern, call 911.
I personally believe that God created all life as holy and sanctified and wants us to treat one another with love, care and respect.
Carol Hallman is resident minister at First UCC, 207 W. Horah St.

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