Amy’s House, Lincoln County’s only shelter for women who have experienced domestic violence, operates quietly in the background of the community. Its location is not even known by most. Yet, it’s a place where a woman can go to find safety. It’s a place where she can go and not feel so alone, and staffed by people who will support and care about her.
The Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which operates Amy’s House, held its annual domestic violence awareness luncheon Wednesday. At the beginning of the meeting, board member Darryl Wilburn asked for a moment of silence to be observed to remember the most recent known victim of domestic violence, Mary Walters Cook.
“The question is often asked, what is domestic violence?” he said. “Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically, however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.”
Domestic violence is quite widespread throughout the United States and doesn’t just affect women. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one-in-three women and one-in-four men will become victims of domestic abuse in their lifetimes. That’s up to 12 million adults per year. At least three million children will be subjected to domestic violence per year. Women aged 20 to 24 are most at risk.
Aubrey Pearson, a case manager with the Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse, told the story of “Tiffany,” a woman who suffered from domestic abuse and found help through the coalition and Amy’s House.
The coalition has numerous fundraisers coming up to help raise money to build a new Amy’s House to replace the 100-year-old mill house that they’ve been using. The goal is to build a new, larger, easier to maintain, integrated service facility to help more women and children in Lincoln County.
These events include Playing For A Cause: 8-Ball Tournament Oct. 5 at Rack'em Pub & Billiards in Matthews, the “Unmasking Domestic Violence Gala” Oct. 17 at Laboratory Mill and Amy's Closet Fall Fashion Show and Brunch Nov. 2 at Denver United Methodist Church.
Several community members and organizations were recognized for the help they’ve given the coalition over the past year.
The Friend of Amy’s House, an award recognizing extraordinary partnership with the coalition to serve the victims of domestic violence in the community and making the community a better place, was given to Reinvestment In Communities based out of Gastonia.
Melissa Summer, sexual assault advocate with Phoenix Counseling, received the People Helping People award. This award is to recognize outstanding service by an individual who has given of themselves to help victims of domestic violence to create new lives free of violence. The Volunteer of the Year award went to a company this year, LeeBoy, and the employees of the Lincolnton plant.
Shasta Steele, a survivor of domestic abuse herself, who started two Amy’s Closets in Lincoln County to help raise money for Amy’s House, was given the Lifetime Contribution Award. Steele has been both a board member and officer for many years and is stepping down this year. When she started the first Amy’s Closet in Denver, Steele didn’t think it would work. It was wildly successful, so successful in fact that she opened a second store in Lincolnton. All of the proceeds raised from sales of clothing at Amy’s Closet are given to help support Amy’s House.