Group talks on abuse

Published 7:02 pm Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nearly 40 Black Belt residents gathered at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center on Wednesday for the annual symposium on domestic and sexual violence presented by Selma and Black Belt Region Abuse (S.A.B.R.A.) Sanctuary, Inc.

Domestic violence awareness month is celebrated in October, and this month marks the 15th annual symposium S.A.B.R.A. Sanctuary Inc., has done.

“We do this in order to help our survivors and our victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. We need the whole community to help us,” said Sabrah Agee, S.A.B.R.A. programs coordinator and prevention educator. “It’s really a service to the community because we believe that the more they know, the better they can help victims.”

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People who attend, Agee said, are typically nurses, social workers, counselors, attorneys, judges, police officers and sometimes survivors.

“By doing this,” Agee said, “[They] receive training in how to use this knowledge in their own jobs. So any nurses that might be here would probably learn a lot, but it helps even if you’re not a nurse. If you’re a law enforcement officer or counselor or a social worker, it helps to know what nurses do, because the more you understand, the better you can help.”

Debra Bell-Vanzant, a domestic abuse survivor and author of “One Pair of Panties,” spoke on her experience with domestic and sexual abuse.

“It’s not hard for me to share my story because it’s really not about me,” Bell-Vanzant said. “It’s about what the Lord has done for me, and my life, all what He has brought me out of. I have to tell my story. I have to let people know about domestic violence. They need to know that it is serious and the shelters out here that are housing the abused and battered women, they need help.”

Bell-Vanzant’s self-published book was released at the end of July, and this was her first time speaking “in front of a [group] of professional people, who are supposed to be the ones to help the victims,” she said.

“It’s so exciting for me,” Bell-Vanzant said of sharing her story to this particular audience, especially during domestic violence awareness month. “After everything I’ve been through … I actually made it out and then I get to tell people how God saved me. If it just helps one person, that’s all that matters. So they will know that, if she was able to get away, maybe I will be able to get away. For them to have that hope, to be able to hold on to that hope and that faith and say, ‘Maybe one day I will be able to do that, before he kills me.’”