Programs aim to ‘create survivors instead of victims’

Published 11:56 pm Friday, September 26, 2008

FRANKLIN—Healthy Woman, a program sponsored by Southampton Memorial Hospital, is aiming to shine light on the issue of domestic violence.

The National Violence Hotline Web site estimates that about 33 million Americans say that they have been a victim of domestic violence.

Closer to home, domestic violence is an issue as well. The Genieve Shelter provided crisis and support services to 207 Franklin, Southampton and Isle of Wight residents during the 2008 fiscal year, according to Val Livingston, director of the Genieve Shelter.

“Through the Healthy Woman program, we’re hoping to open up discussion,” said Marti Clark, SMH Healthy Woman co-coordinator. “We want to bring domestic violence issues to the forefront and make the community well-aware.”

Clark said promotion for domestic violence awareness had been lacking recently, and with domestic violence being a “serious issue facing Americans today,” Healthy Woman felt it needed to be addressed.

“Domestic violence occurs for both men and women, but the majority of violence is geared toward women,” Clark said. “We understand women are the primary decision makers for health care in their families and we want to empower them with knowledge to make better decisions.”

To help achieve these goals, Healthy Woman has planned two main events for October: the “Healthy Women Stomp Out Domestic Violence” awareness walk and a book reading with Janine Latus, best-selling author of “If I am Missing or Dead: A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder and Liberation.”

Clark said the idea for the book reading came from her book club. The novel, which tells the true story of Latus’ sister’s fatal struggle with an abusive relationship, was one of the selections for the club. Clark’s book leader reached out to Latus, who was receptive of Healthy Woman’s mission and eager to be “an outlet through Healthy Woman,” according to Clark.

The reading, which also includes dinner provided by SMH, takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 9 at Paul D. Camp Community College Regional Workforce Development Center. Livingston will serve as a special guest. Pre-registration by Thursday is required due to limited seating. Call (757) 569-6182.

The walk will take place Oct. 11 and will include raffle and door prizes, free T-Shirts, refreshments and entertainment. Walkers may pre-register by calling (757) 562-6721 or (757) 569-6456.

Both events are free for women and open to the public.

Clark recommends people attend to educate themselves on the serious topic of domestic violence.

“You may not be a victim, but you may know someone,” she said. “If we give everyone the information, you will have it to help a friend, a neighbor, a loved one. We want to create survivors instead of victims.”