October is Violence Against Women Awareness Month, and the Presbyterian Church in Morristown plans to raise awareness with several events, including a conference on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.
“Violence against women creates anguish and hardship around the world,” said the Rev. Bonnie Orth of the Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence Network. “As people of faith, we are called to lift up the powerless and speak for them. I hope to give participants at the conference a way to do that.”
Orth will be joined by guest speakers Patty Sly of the Jersey Battered Women’s Service of Morris County, and Tia Manochio of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.
Conference organizers say that a third of all women have been beaten, raped or otherwise abused. Some 2,500 domestic abuse cases are reported every year in Morris County.
“Helping women to find their voice and break the silence about domestic abuse is the greatest challenge we face,” said Sly.
“Everyone needs to know and share the warning signs of an abusive relationship and the pathway to safety. That’s what I’ll be advocating at the conference.”
The Conference on the Prevention of Violence Against Women runs from 9 am to noon at the church, on 57 East Park Place. Admission is free, but registration is requested. Call 973-538-1776 for more.
The conference will explore steps people can take to identify and report abuse.
“Law enforcement is committed to protecting women from violence, but we need the help of the community,” said Manochio. “At this conference I’ll be addressing ways that women can protect themselves and their loved ones through awareness, reporting, and testimony.”
Conference participants will include the Atlantic Health System, the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA), Deirdre’s House and the Morris County Sheriff’s Offices.
These groups will field questions, distribute information and respond to private concerns.
Other church events on this theme include a pair of Sunday seminars:
Oct 11: Dr. Lisa Barsky Firkser, CASA, “Effect of Domestic Violence on Children” (Chapel)
Oct 25: Simone Snyder, JBWS, “Healthy Dating Practices for Teens” (Parish House)
The Rev. Sarah Green also will sermonize about “No More Violence” at the 7:45 am and 10 am services on Oct. 11. These sermons will be available online after Oct. 14.
A viewing/discussion of the documentary I Believe You: Faith’s Response to Intimate Partner Violence is scheduled for Oct 18 at 4 pm in the chapel.
Underlying these programs is a conviction that the faith community can do more, according to Green, an associate minister at the church.
“Intimate partner violence thrives in a culture of silence, and far too much of the time the church is part of that silence. By breaking the silence, we can work together to end this scourge on our community. Our faith, which is grounded in hope and love, demands it,” Green said.
Betty Darcy, outreach chair for the church, added:
“We have been inspired by call of The White House campaign to reduce sexual assault on college campuses: don’t be a bystander, be part of the solution. This conference offers strategies from law enforcement, counselors, and clergy so we can all take action to prevent violence against women.”