ESSEX — The Destined For Greatness Learning Center in Essex was alive with music, laughter and fellowship on Oct. 3.
The atmosphere inside the learning center was friendly, but the reason why 30 women met inside a large room was no laughing matter. Their reason for being in this place on a Saturday afternoon was to hear testimonies and find resources about intimate partner violence (IPV), more commonly referred to as “domestic violence.”
Around 30 people showed up to the Essex venue for an event called Breaking the Cycle: No More Makeup, hosted by Dana’s Daughters Healing and Restoration Ministry, a Baltimore City-based organization committed to the healing and restoration of women through unique events that are conducive for change and a move of God. The organization’s mission is the healing and restoration of women and adolescent girls in order to emancipate their minds, elevate their thinking and empower them to walk into their purpose.
All of this information can be found at the organization’s website, www.facebook.com/danasdaughters.
Sierra Walker, the organization’s co-founder, said she started Dana’s Daughters in 2018. It was prompted by several societal issues, such as fatherlessness and abandonment. She said she held her first event in 2018, and the organization picked up momentum.
“We cater to fatherless daughters and fatherless sons,” said Kya. “We try to work with the ages of 12 and older, because that’s where we see that it has the most impact on their lives.
“We know that it impacts you from birth. We know that these situations that we’re in, even if you’re having trauma and domestic violence at home, even if you have fatherlessness in your family’s history, we speak to young women ages 12 and older.”
Dana’s Daughters holds several different kinds of functions while doing outreach and support, which include prayer circles, seminars, giveaways, healing circles and more. Scott said the purpose of the healing circle is for everyone sitting in the circle to be free and open.
“We aim to bring some things down so we can build them back up,” Scott said.
Co-parenting with your abuser
The three-hour event included other organizations and people that serve victims and survivors of intimate partner abuse. One of them was Leah White Young, a Baltimore City business owner and advocate for those who have suffered from domestic violence. She owns an organization called Silence Breakers.
Young gave a presentation to the audience titled “Co-parenting with your abuser.” White told those attending that she is a survivor of intimate partner violence, and learning to co-parent with her spouse after their marriage was something she had to learn.
At the beginning of her presentation, Young noted that October is commonly recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but it is not as commonly recognized.
Young told the audience that she was with her abuser for 14 years. She said that he was controlling in their relationship. They are no longer together, and Young said that they are equals.
“My daughter is now 21, and she is very particular in who she dates,” Young said. “I had to be real clear and transparent about what happened between me and her father, and she saw it. She saw us fighting. She saw us throwing pillows. She saw us beating up things.”
“What you guys might think are just normal things in your home, haha that’s funny? That’s not funny. That doesn’t happen in normal homes.”
Young told the audience that, unfortunately, there could be a part where you will still have to co-parent with an abuser after the relationship ends. She presented audience members with a game called “Co-parenting Bingo.” The squares on the bingo card include things like self love, a digital line of communication with your abuser, disengaging from emotional triggers and so forth.
“If it’s something you’re experiencing in your home or it’s something you’re doing right now, you can mark it with an ‘x,’” Young said. “If you’re not, that’s something you need to work on.”
Women at a Stand
Tasha Chance is a community support specialist and the host of a podcast titled Let’s Talk Love Podcast. She is also the owner of an organization called Women at a Stand, dedicated to assisting women who have, who still are or know someone that have experienced domestic violence.
Chance said she started Women at a Stand as a sisterhood for women who have been abused. Her model is that when one woman stands, she stands for all women, she said.
“I started that organization because when I was going through my abusive stage, I did not have anybody to turn to,” Chance said. “I didn’t have a sister. I didn’t have a friend to confide in.”
“The guy I was in a relationship with, he was a public figure. He was looked at as someone who was doing good in his community. Someone who could never ever do the awful things he had done to me over those seven years that we were together.”
Chance said she later became that woman that other women could confide in. She is a case manager, and she is currently in school to become a therapist. She said she has always had the type of energy that invites people to go to her for advice.
“We need that type of sisterhood, like a sorority,” Chance said. “When my organization started, that’s what I am, a sorority. I share resources. I give information. I connect you to any and everything to help you get through it.”
Domestic violence stats in Maryland
According to the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence (MNADV), 702 victims of intimate partner violence were served in just one day in 2019. The census was taken through state domestic violence programs. In 2018, 22,692 temporary restraining orders were served by Maryland courts, while 10,107 final protective orders were served.
MNADV also found that between the period of July 1 2017 and June 30, 2018, 46 Marylanders died as a result of domestic violence. Twenty-six of those victims (57 percent) were the victims of intimate partner violence. This number includes 17 women, seven men and two teenagers.
So far this year, Maryland courts have held 25,094 protective order hearings. This number includes all hearings, including dismissed cases and cases where an order was not granted. This information was provided by the Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts. The data covers Jan. 1-Sept. 30. Data for October is not yet available.
That report, which was carried by local media outlets in mid-2019, pointed out that domestic violence doesn’t only affect victims in a relationship. Five bystanders died over that period, including four people who died while aiding a fleeing victim. The study also showed that 15 abusers also lost their lives, including 12 men, two women and a teenager.
In 2019, Maryland ranked 10th in female homicides by men in intimate partner violence incidents, a rate of 1.58 per 100,000 women.