YWCA Voices Against Violence honors survivors, introduces new program

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – For the 16th year, the YWCA held its Domestic Violence Awareness Month event. The event sold out for the last three years. This year, an additional luncheon was added to bring the total attendees to 600.

The issue of domestic violence is personal for many of the people attending including YWCA staff like Marshall Weil, director of development for the organization.

“My mother in a previous marriage had (experienced domestic violence), my grandmother and others. To see women in your family (experience domestic violence) and to have it hit home changes perspective,” Weil said.

Weil said 90 percent of violence perpetrated against men and women is at the hands of men. He says only 20 percent of women engage in domestic violence.

“That’s why men like me, and men like those that are here this morning have to step up, have to use their voices and their privilege do something about it,” Weil said.

AMEND Together, a new program out of YWCA Nashville, will allow them to take action. Dayton is one of five cities chosen for the pilot program to educate men and boys.

“They do in-school programming, they do training with corporations, they do training with faith communities,” Weil said.

Monique Williams is a domestic violence survivor who utilized the YWCA as a child. Her mother left a violent relationship moving her family from New York to Ohio. Then, in her 20’s, Williams again found shelter at the YWCA as she herself fled a violent relationship with her newborn son. 

Now, 13 years later she’s a speaker at Voices Against Violence and a homeless crisis response manager with the YWCA.

“To be now 13 years later working where I’m helping to rapidly re-house women into a safe place, it just feels really therapeutic to me,” Williams said.

She brought her son along to the event.

“He’ll start dating soon and I want him to learn about the things to look out for in domestic violence and the ways he can keep from hurting someone else,” Williams said.

The YWCA shelters 300 domestic violence survivors a year.  Williams is there to show them they can make it out to the other side. 

This year’s event saw more men than ever attend and Weil hopes they know they can do something. 

“‘I’ve been in your shoes before. It may seem difficult. You may struggle at first. You may think you’re doing this alone, you’re not,” Williams said.

She wants others in the community to stand up with her. 

“We are a voice against violence that we will no longer be silent against domestic violence,” Williams said.

She wants anyone struggling with domestic violence to know there is help. 

“Please call someone, please reach out to someone, because we’re here to help. You’re not alone,” Wiliams said.

This year’s event saw more men than ever attend and Weil hopes they know they can do something. 

“That’s what we need is for men in our community to be better,” Weil said.

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