Haven House leads domestic violence awareness effort
By J.J. Kindred | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is continuing throughout October, with county leaders trying to raise more awareness around the issue.
Earlier this month, national leaders signed a proclamation declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is nationally recognized, but Blount County is striving to give the issue more attention.
Recently, a county task force against domestic violence sponsored the ceremony where the proclamation was signed, held at First Baptist Church of Maryville.
Nearly 25 percent of women and 8 percent of men say they have been victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives, according to the Bureau of Justice statistics. Statistically, a woman is assaulted and beaten every nine seconds in America.
The Blount County chapter of Haven House has gone all-out to not only get the community involved in the awareness but has also enlisted some well-known area figures in sports.
Former University of Tennessee men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl, his wife, Brandy, and several county high school coaches have donated their time and efforts to help Haven House spread its message across. Last month, Pearl and the coaches recorded public service messages to be played on WMYL-FM (Merle FM), recorded by DJ Jack Ryan (Ryan Hammond).
“Coaches Pearl and (Alcoa High School boys’ basketball coach Tony) Jones and I have worked together in the past, and they have always helped me out with different events and fundraising,” said Valerie Day, CEO of Haven House’s Blount County chapter.
“I get a call from Coach Pearl’s wife, Brandy, who is a dear person and has a heart of gold. She said, ‘Valerie, I’m so glad you’re at Haven House and I really want to help. She is religiously out here. She grew up in a domestic violence family, so she knows what that feels like. Where the wife is, so follows the husband.
“Every single one of our families is affected by domestic violence at some level,” Day continued. “I feel strongly that while Haven House is here to serve victims of domestic violence, and that people support us through volunteering and support the victims, until the men of our community stand up and say we’re not going to tolerate it anymore, we’re not going to look the other way anymore and not going to let domestic violence deteriorate our families anymore, then we will see that shift in the statistics.”
Before the coaches recorded their public service announcement, Day issued a message to them.
“I see that you are the leadership in this community. I feel strongly about that,” Day said. “If you want to know leaders in community, look at our schools, look at our churches and look at our athletes — they’re all leaders in the community. Your voice is much, much louder than my voice could ever be, especially when you’re talking with teenage boys and teenage girls, and moms and dads.
“Most people are staggered by these statistics,” Day continued. “The state average is one out of four (homes affected by domestic violence), the national average is one out of four. In Blount County, it’s one out of three. A lot of factors play into that. If you talk to (Blount County General Sessions) Judge (Robert) Headrick and law enforcement, they can tell you it’s a generational thing. You learn domestic violence is not an illness, it has nothing to do with substance abuse, or anger management. It’s a learned value that says men are entitled to beat their wives, or talk ugly to their girlfriends or to beat them down emotionally or physically.”
This past summer, Haven House celebrated its 30th anniversary of its Blount and Monroe County chapters. The organization provides programs to help abuse victims with life skills and to gain meaningful employment.
They have their own safe house shelter in a confidential location in Blount County.