Prince William Living Domestic Abuse Community Forum: “We Need to Talk About This”

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By Amy Falkofske

On Saturday, February 27, the lives of Prince William County Police Officer Ashley Guindon and Woodbridge resident Crystal Hamilton were cut short due to a domestic violence incident at Hamilton’s home. Having been the victim of domestic abuse herself 23 years ago, Prince William Living Publisher Rebecca Barnes decided it was time, not only to speak out about her own experience with domestic abuse, but to get the community talking about the issue as well.

 

The Prince William Living Domestic Abuse Community Forum was held on Thursday, April 7 at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in partnership with ACTS, the mental health community and the Prince William County Police Department.  In attendance were five panelists including Detective Don Anthony King, Domestic Violence Coordinator with PWCPD; Detective Nathan Thomas, Special Victims Unit with PWCPD; Dr. Ramfis Marquez, LPC, Ph.D., Director of the Greater Prince William Community Health Center; Van Washington, Program Manager with Child Protective Services with Prince William County Department of Social Services and Dottie Larson, Director of ACTS Client Support and Domestic Violence Services. The panelists expressed their satisfaction with being a part of something that would ultimately help our community.

“This is just a nice opportunity to for us as detectives to sit down in an environment other than an investigation and just talk with people one on one about these types of crimes, and just be able to inform them of what we do and how we help people,” said Thomas.

“I think it’s an opportunity for us to discuss how domestic violence is affecting our many, many children throughout the community, and the community needs to be aware that this is happening every day. I think it’s a great opportunity for us to highlight this epidemic that is spreading throughout the country, throughout our communities and in our schools,” said Washington.

Barnes opened the forum with a moment of silence for the millions of families affected by domestic abuse, then shared a little bit of her story and some insight into what domestic abuse entails.

“Sometimes abuse doesn’t come with black eyes and lost teeth. Sometimes it comes with years of mental abuse and suffering, isolation, things like deleting your voice mail or tearing up your mail, or these days, deleting your emails. It’s separating you from your friends, separating you from your family, telling you what to wear, saying that the things that they are doing are because they love you…It happens to men. It happens to women. It happens to any socio-economic level, any education level. It is not a color. It is not a sex, and we need to talk about this.”

The panel discussed how domestic abuse happens, why it happens, who it happens to, how you can recognize it and what you can do about it. Afterwards, a question and answer sessions was held for the attendees.

Members of ACTS, the Greater Prince William Community Health Center, CASA, Prince William Living and Prince William Community Services had tables out front in the lobby of the Hylton Center to assist those who needed or wanted more information.

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