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My Turn, Renee Bradshaw: United Way supports work of Family Crisis Council

By Renee Bradshaw

October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about domestic violence, services for survivors and recognize those working to end the cycle of violence within families.

Are you aware of Rowan County’s domestic violence problem? Here is a snapshot: In 2017, Rowan County 911 received 2,176 domestic violence calls. By 2019, the number of calls increased to 3,360, a 54.41% increase

The number one question asked by those who never experienced domestic violence is, “Why don’t they just leave?” Domestic violence is more than just physical harm. It usually includes emotional, financial, sexual, and spiritual harm to ensure dependence on the abuser. In some instances, abusers coerce victims into using drugs, becoming dependent on not only the substance but also the abuser to continue providing the substance. Domestic violence and the power asserted by abusers is an insidious form of control that cuts through every facet of a victims life to ensure their victim’s sense of individuality, self-reliance, and self-image are erased until a victim feels that they don’t deserve anything more than their abuser. 

It is a tragic cycle that Family Crisis Council of Rowan and Rowan County United Way work tirelessly to break by ensuring services are available and accessible to survivors. First, Family Crisis Council of Rowan, with Rowan County United Way support, provides emergency shelter to all survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The shelter is essential work because 50% of all homeless women reported to the National Center of Family Homelessness that domestic violence was the immediate cause of them being homeless. 

Second, Rowan County United Way supports not only the work of Family Crisis Council, but also other community agencies that provide support services for the community including clients referred from Family Crisis Council of Rowan. Rowan County United Way emphasizes addressing the areas of greatest need with a focus on improving lives of the individuals in our community.  The assessment showed over a year ago that the greatest needs we needed to work on were Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Healthy Lifestyles Behaviors and Basic Needs. 

While Family Crisis Council of Rowan has always provided immediate crisis assistance and services such as emergency shelter, 24-hour crisis line, court advocacy, and hospital accompaniment utilizing agency staff, other services such as substance abuse recovery programs and mental health resources require outside referrals to programs such as PORT, Daymark, Capstone, or Nazareth Family and Child Connection. All of these recovery and mental health resources are possible, accessible, and available thanks to the tireless work of Rowan County United Way to support essential services within our community. 

During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we not only mourned those who have lost their lives to domestic violence, but also celebrated the resiliency of all survivors. In recognition of the mission to end domestic violence and help survivors retake their lives, Family Crisis Council of Rowan wanted to say thank you to Rowan County United Way and the other community impact partners for doing their part to battle the increasing domestic violence rate in Rowan County.

Join us as we share knowledge about domestic violence, highlight the current work being done by Rowan County United Way and the community to make a difference, and examine ways that we can all make a difference in the battle against domestic violence.

Renee Bradshaw is the director of the Family Crisis Council.

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