Every town hall is a unique experience. The Voice of Domestic Violence Town Hall in Winston Salem on 4/11/19 included experts, survivors, current warriors with powerful stories and valuable information to share! Event summary here.
The event was organized by Triad NOW and by Progress NC. Past Triad NOW President Audrey Muck was the moderator for a panel of five. Each speaker got 15 minutes baseline. The event was held at Parkway United Church of Christ.
- Julie Owens, Domestic Violence Expert and Consultant
- NC Representative Evelyn Terry (D-Forsyth)
- Molly-Catherine Goodson, Forsyth County Prosecutor (ADA) specializing in DV cases and Child Protection Court
- Reverend Abby Catoe, advocate for victims of DV who grew up in very abusive household, and founder of Annie’s Hope
- Susan Browder, advocate for victims of DV, changed careers when daughter murdered
Julie Owens introduced the topic of Domestic Violence (DV), defining terms and busting common myths and misconceptions. She explained that DV is about coercive control – not just what is done to victims, but also what is taken from them (freedom, free will, friends, etc). DV is not limited to physical violation. Owens showed different ways this manifests via the power and control wheel, with physical and sexual abuse around the outside. She talked about how DV gets worse. Owens busted many myths.
A few of the many myths she busted were.
- DV is a type of relationship problem. No! Abusers feel they are entitled. It’s not a relationship problem.
- She talked about victim blaming – society is looking for the problem in the wrong places. DV happens because the abuser is sick.
She also went over characteristics of an abuser. See slide in picture, below.
157,000 of NC residents are victims.
Susan Browder went from teacher to gun control and safe relationship advocate after her own daughter was murdered by her daughter’s husband. Browder grew up in a house where her mother had been abused by her father. She herself married a great guy and thought she was free. Then their daughter married the seemingly charming young marine who ended up exerting control over their daughter and eventually murdering her.
Browder talked about how risky for victims it is in real life to get restraining orders against abusers, some loopholes in DV law leaving vulnerable populations unprotected (young, lgbtq, immigrant). She talked about her adopted organization, Moms Demand Action. She shared some shocking statistics, some captured below. She covered federal gun safety legislation through the years, and how state and local laws do not always reflect the intent of federal law.
- 6410 – American women were murdered by an intimate partner using a gun between 2001 and 2012, more than the total number of US troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
- 1 million – nearly one million women alive today have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner.
- Women in the US are 16 times more likely to be killed with guns than women in other high income countries.
- When a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, the victim is five times more likely to be killed.
- The intersection between mass shooting and gun domestic violence homicides 2009-2016.
The 5 times more likely, or 500% more likely statistic above is mentioned a lot right now, as NC has some DV improvement legislation in process. Browder also talked about the federal legislation and what is preventing it from helping as much as it could be helping.
Representative Evelyn Terry (D-Forsyth) talked about NC legislation and domestic violence. Rep. Terry has experience at state level (House of Representatives 2013-present), city level (Winston-Salem City Councilwoman), county level ( Chair, Board of Directors, Department of Social Services, Forsyth County) and professional experience. Also, Rep. Terry started a shelter for batter women in Winston-Salem, and has personal experience trying to keep the women in the shelter safe from abusers.
Molly-Catherine Goodson is a Forsyth County Prosecutor (ADA) specializing in DV cases and Child Protection Court. She had an abusive father. When he left, the burden lifted. She was 9 years old. The attorney did such a good job for her family, she decided to become one herself.
She has an impressive case success record in the DV court, where they run 4 days a week – 75%. The losses were usually for things like a victim recanting. Her work often includes a choice between fighting for justice vs. what the victim wants. One thing she does that is unusual is use batter of an unborn child. She feels it is the most undercharged crime in state.
Often when a woman reports that she has been assaulted, it is not the worst assault she has experienced. There is always more to the story.
The average victim will leave an abuser 7 times before leaving permanently. Goodson finds you need to treat survivors respectfully and well so they continue to report. She doesn’t want to take the victims’ control away from them.
Also women come in with multiple needs, and more community support for them would be useful.
Reverend Abby Catoe grew up in a very abusive home. Her father abused her mom and all 6 kids. She felt worthless, and she also thought violence was normal. There was an interesting cycle in the abuse. Neighbors would call the cops. Her father would go to jail. The family would get evicted and move. The father would find them and it would start again.
Abby Catoe left at 14, following sisters who left at 16 or so. She had 2 abusive husbands. She felt betrayed by the elders at her church who told her to take the abuse. She finally got free, and decided to never be dependent ever again. She found a purpose in life – to help others. She absolutely changed churches and became a reverend. Rev. Catoe had volunteered at women’s shelters, and saw clearly a problem that shelters are full all the time – and the help is only temporary.
Rev. Catoe is working on home for women to provide long term help – to help undo the psychological damage from abuse, and to teach women business skills so they can become financially independent. Annie’s Hope is being built in Yadkin County.
Thanks to Ellie Wood at Progress NC, Triad NOW President Ana Tampanna, and past NOW Board Member Audrey Muck as well as other members of Triad NOW for organizing this excellent event.