My sister on the sax, Ernie D. Shelby aka Lady Sax reached out to me several months ago with a vision: a vision of live entertainment of women on saxophones and a fashion show to bring awareness to domestic violence. She chose October because this month is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and she felt like this worthy cause still did not have enough attention, especially considering the obvious serious nature of domestic violence. I was honored she asked me to be a part of this program, and of course I accepted; however, Ms. Shelby accepted and endured the task of making this event come to fruition with her own blood, sweat, tears and dollars. Some of the difficulties she ensued because of her dedication to this event can be construed as somewhat violent, but she persevered, and her support system both male and female alike, endured to the end. I applaud each and every person who was a part of making this event successful from everyone in the audience, booths, photography and sound system to the live musical entertainment, incredible fashion show and designers.
So, why use the arts like music and fashion designing to bring awareness? Many people, even well-meaning people, may not understand how challenging it can be to bring awareness and revelation to an issue like domestic violence both on a local and national level. The arts can serve as the quintessential ice breaker to bridge this disparity. I also recoginize that a powerful camaraderie like this event (A Sunday Kind of Love) can be very intimidating to the ones who benefit from such heinous acts of violence or crimes whether it's on an emotional, spiritual, or religious level or even a financial level. What culprit wants to admit he or she is an abuser in their homes, churches, businesses or organizations? And, on the other hand, the insurmountable grief and emotional turmoil of the victims can be so overwhelming that speaking out may leave other people feeling so uncomfortable that telling the victims to keep silent about it is easier for them, but in my opinion, this is a cowardly, selfish reaction and cop out that only adds more injury to the victims. How do we bridge this gap? The arts can be used as one of many vehicles or means to bring deliverance, healing, and awareness to the deep recesses of the soul where no man or woman can reach. I thank God for the arts and His healing power!
While "The Sunday Kind of Love" event was designed to bring awareness and will not solve every issue on its own, it will definitely help. Although everyone at this event was aware of domestic violence to some degree, the music and fashion show helped bridge the gap and bring the issue to the front at a deeper level of understanding and commitment. Hearing the statistics provided by representatives of local agencies (Gary Commission for Women and Triumphant Transitions) and an award provided to a survivor of domestic violence and hearing a short testimony from the recipient made every blood, sweat and tear by Ernie D Shelby and every participant all worth while. When one considers the many lives lost to domestic violence, we just can't do enough to bring social awareness, healing and betterment to all victims of domestic violence and their families and friends. Here are only a few staggering statistics:
* 74% of employed domestic violence victims say they have been harassed by their abusive partner at work. Read More
* National Statistics: (1) Every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten. (2) On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. (3) Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries. Read More
I encourage you to find out more about domestic violence and how to get help at the following links:
*National Coalition Against Domestic Violence ~ ncadv.org
* Find Help (24/7 Hotline ~ Emergency Shelters) ~ DomesticShelters.org
For the first time, my husband, LaDarien Spencer, spoke openly about his sister, Carolyn Jones, to our small group the day after the event. Carolyn lost her life to domestic violence about 34 years ago, leaving two babies and a grieving Mother and siblings to mourn her death. It's a long story, but for many reasons, this was tragedy that was extremely difficult for his family to talk about.
Again, thanks to Ernie D Shelby and her support system for making a difference. We must stop waiting until everything is perfect to do something about domestic violence. Whether it's on a local or national level, small or large scale, one dollar or a million, there is always something you can do. Do Your Part and Take A Stand Against Domestic Violence Now!
Joyce Spencer Music & Entertainment