News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 8, 2013

Initiative seeks end to domestic violence

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Domestic violence and how to end it is not only a topic worth discussion, but also action.

Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett commended the congregation at Rapture Temple Ministries on Sunday for its ongoing focus on the nationwide “Stop the Violence” initiative.

And Bennett also urged action to reach out to the local victims of domestic violence who may be too afraid, hopeless or beaten down to take action themselves to escape their abusive situations.

One in four women in the United States has suffered some form of abuse, Bennett said, citing statistics. Every 9 seconds, a woman in the U.S. is attacked. Abuse is the leading cause of injury to women.

“You don’t see it, because it happens behind closed doors,” Bennett said. “Women are trapped. They feel they can’t get out. We need men to stand up and say this isn’t right. Men have a responsibility to do that.”

From the murmurs of agreement in the audience, his message rang true.

Another statistic that the mayor shared, was that three women in the U.S. lose their lives every day due to domestic violence.

“At what point do you turn and hit your wife? Hit your girlfriend,” Bennett asked. “Why in the world would you want to inflict that kind of pain on that person, when life is so short?”

Intervention and prayer were the tools Bennett offered in the effort to end domestic violence. The Council on Domestic Abuse, or CODA, helps hundreds of women — and men — each year who are trying to escape their dangerous situation in the Wabash Valley. CODA educates the public, and helps the victims try to build a non-violent future for themselves and their children.

But even with that organization’s effort, too many women, children and families are still in the midst of crisis.

“It’s going on across this city right now as we’re sitting here,” Bennett told the Rapture Temple congregation.

The power of prayer is one way to get people over the threshold, he said. And another way is to share the message of ending violence, as Rapture Temple has been doing with its annual campaign that lasts not just one Sunday each year, but has been repeated in several sermons by Pastor Arnick Shouse throughout the year.

“It is something that shouldn’t be preached about just one day,” Bennett said of domestic violence.

Pastor Shouse, who serves on the national committee for the “Stop the Violence” initiative, said the point is to “change the mindset” of the American people that violence in any form is not acceptable.

From the 2012 massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary to the 1968 slaying of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., violence in any form is unacceptable, Shouse said.

He recalled being in ninth grade when he learned of King’s death and how that act of violence changed the civil rights movement — and the lives of individuals everywhere.

“At his death, I was devastated by that violent act,” Shouse said. “I thought the world would end at any moment. I thought that the safety net was gone.”

By personalizing acts of violence, such as King’s death or the Sandy Hook massacre, people can put aside their difference of opinions about gun control, laws and personal freedoms, he said.

“Put your children’s name in their place, and it will change the meaning for you every time one of these acts of violence happens,” Shouse said.

The mayor concluded by saying that when he is asked what is the biggest problem of the Terre Haute community, he responds “broken homes.” Whether that home is broken by violence, drugs and alcohol, or crime, households around the city are hurting, he said. And taking action to end violence is one way to heal many broken homes.

“Maybe one household at a time,” he said, “we can change this world.”

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.