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Jun 12, 2017

Haven House Seeks Funds Through 5K Walk Against Domestic Violence

Domestic violence against women has ended tragically in numerous cases across the country. But women continue to suffer in silence. Over the weekend, an initiative by a nonprofit organization that assist battered women and children, held a first of its kind event. Through the five-K walk, Haven House hopes to raise awareness as well as funds to continue its work with victims. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

A most recent case of domestic violence in the south ended fatal; but many victims of this crime, primarily women, continue to suffer in silence. It is a controversial issue that various government departments as well as some local N.G.O.’s have been battling for decades. Counselor Renee Wentz says it’s a concern because some women perceive abuse by their partners as something normal.

 

Renee Wentz

Renee Wentz, Counselor

“We have to recognize how pervasive intimate partner violence is in this country. I remember when I was doing a self-defense workshop in Orange Walk and we were talking about the different types of domestic violence. And at the end, one of the women said I don’t know any women in my life—not my mom, not my aunt, not my sister, not my friends who has not experienced that. And I was shocked and I was floored. I am also a counselor by profession and so I see it every day that somebody comes in and that’s what their experience is—whether they are a child and growing in that kind of a lifestyle with violence or they are an adult person who is growing up in that violence.”

 

Over the weekend, a five-kilometer walk/run organized by Haven House sought to bring awareness to the issue. As early as five a.m. on Saturday, residents converged at B.T.L. Park on Princess Margaret Drive to break the silence and support the initiative, which President Doctor Sharmayne Saunders says is also serves as a fundraiser for the N.G.O.

 

Sharmayne Saunders

Dr. Sharmayne Saunders, President, Haven House

“It is the first of its kind and we are hoping that we make it an annual event. One of the reasons we’ve decided to do a calendar of activities this year is to ensure that we raise awareness, because that is crucial. And also fundraising because it allows us to do more of our programmatic areas. We are having a challenge with funds as you know we are an N.G.O. We are heavily subsidized by the government; it’s one of the areas that does not have a full government agency.”

 

A sea of purple and orange could be seen along the stretch from the B.T.L. Park along Princess Margaret Drive to Social Security and back.

 

Dr. Sharmayne Saunders

“The powder is significant. Both colors orange and purple are significant for gender based violence and so we chose those powder. And then of course you notice we are purple; that’s our color of Haven House as well…it represents domestic violence.”

 

Duane Moody

“And generating the funds is by simply buying one of the t-shirts?”

 

Dr. Sharmayne Saunders

“The registration is twenty-five dollars for adults and we have a rate for children or school kids which is fifteen dollars. And we have hydrating stations all across the route going and coming and of course the powder which makes it different from an ordinary run.”

 

One survivor says that she suffered for thirteen years, but after seeking help, she is happy with her children.

 

Voice of: Survivor of Domestic Violence

“I for one was at the Haven House. I’ve been a victim of abuse for thirteen years and I am glad that I survived all of this. I have kids and I am happy that I have all my kids with me and now I live a very happy life without abuse.”

 

Duane Moody

“How important was it that all these persons came out to support?”

 

Voice of: Survivor of Domestic Violence

“It is very important, especially for the young girls so that they can learn about abuse. Don’t live in abuse; don’t keep silence. I’ve kept silent for thirteen years. It is never too late but I regret keeping it silence for all those years.”

 

Tracy Sabal

Tracy Sabal, Participant

“Our voice needs to be heard because we have different people facing this issue that are ashamed to come out and we want them to know that it is okay.  I know plenty people who are victims of domestic violence. My advice to them is to seek help. They are not in this alone and there is a way out.”

 

Haven House provides a space for battered women and children, referred to them by government departments. Since its inception five years ago, almost thirteen hundred persons have accessed their services for a period of twenty-one days.

 

Dr. Sharmayne Saunders

“For us women who come to us and it is an immigration matter, then we have to partner with the immigration department. All our women get counseling because that’s crucial for you to deal with your emotional matters, your psychosocial matters so we partner with agencies that will allow us to do the counseling component. There’s also food area that we need to provide food and their hygienic needs so we have partnerships with private sector.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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