The month of October marks Domestic Violence Awareness month. All month, we have been highlighting stats and stories from the Mission. Domestic Violence affects a large majority of the women that come through the Mission. While it affects our guests and is a big reason many of them come to the Mission, the truth is domestic violence affects our entire community. It does not discriminate based on race, income or education. It can happen to anyone including our neighbors, our friends, even our own family. In fact, our own staff has not exempt from the wounds of domestic violence.
Donna Otwell, our Director of Women and Children’s Program, is a survivor of domestic violence. A relationship early in her life became very abusive and that abuse lead to pain, hurt, unworthiness and bitterness. Donna became so broken and angry that the wounds from domestic violence turned her world upside down.
Pastor Larry Otwell, our Executive Director, experienced physical, mental, and emotional abuse during his childhood. On Thanksgiving Day in 1985, his sister was murdered and became another victim of domestic violence. Her murder radically changed the lives of the entire Otwell family. No longer could they hide from the scars of domestic violence. Those wounds opened and led to more pain, anger, and bitterness.
Donna and Pastor Larry spent years in pain only to come out the other side healed and restored thanks to the power and love of Jesus Christ. Through Christ, they found hope, healing, freedom, forgiveness and a calling to help others heal from the wounds of domestic violence.
As you can see from their stories, domestic violence does not fall into our preconceived stereotypes. So, how can we help reduce domestic violence in our community? Here’s where we can start:
First, we must be willing to have conversations about Domestic Violence. Many times, victims feel ashamed. No longer can we sweep domestic violence under the rug. Be willing to talk about it and let others know that it is never okay. Also, let victims know that there are resources like the Mission available for women in crisis.
Second, learn to recognize the signs of Domestic Violence (https://www.thehotline.org/) and be available to help. Too many times, we think it’s none of my business. I shouldn’t get involved in other people’s personal lives. The truth is Domestic Violence is everyone’s business. If we want to end Domestic Violence in our cities, we cannot turn a blind eye.
Finally, support the Mission and the work that we do to help women and children heal from Domestic Violence. When you support the Mission with your prayers, financially, volunteering, or by donating clothes or goods, you are helping provide victims of Domestic Violence with hope, healing and the tools they need to live independently.
Watch Pastor Larry and Donna’s stories here and share their story so we can eliminate the stigma of Domestic Violence.