“People don’t like to talk about domestic violence,” said Zanett Ellington, administrative assistant and child advocate for Christian League for Battered Women, a domestic violence center that operates a shelter named Tranquility House. “It’s not a warm and fuzzy topic. Domestic violence not only affects that family but it affects the community. As I’ve been out there speaking this year, the example that I use quite frequently is the Cox family situation — Susan [Cox Powell] and her family. It’s presumed that she’s deceased. They’ve not been able to find her.
“That’s domestic violence. It affects the community because the social worker went to take [her] young boys to visit the dad, Josh [Powell], and the house blew up. So how did it affect that community — it affected that social worker, it affected the neighbors in that neighborhood, it affected Susan Cox’s family. ... So domestic violence affects so many different gamuts of individuals in communities but we don’t want to talk about it because it’s still a very dark situation. People think that that’s a situation that goes on in a household — a relationship between a man and a woman — but how does it affect the children, how does it affect the community? And that’s the thing that we need to get out, that it affects everyone.”
To help maintain its services and in honor of October being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the nonprofit is organizing a golf tournament Oct. 12 at the Calhoun Elks Club. Registration will begin at 9 a.m., followed by a 10 a.m. tee time. Entry fees for the Lauderdale tournament are $340 per team and $85 per individual. Along with $5,000 being awarded to the golfer making a hole-in-one, other contests will include longest drive and closest to the pin.
Proceeds from the benefit will help Tranquility House with its overall operations, which also could include providing assistance with transportation expenses.
“It’s very important for people to support this organization because our facility is a 17-bed facility,” Ellington said. “With the budget cuts that have gone on, it costs more to run our facility. Everything that you need at your home, we need times 17. The women come here many times with just the clothes on their back. So we have to provide them with the basic necessities — toiletries, food.
“Many of them come here without an automobile. So we have to transport them to DFCS or transport them to the Department of Labor or transport them to the library so they can work on their resume. ... There’s just so many things in our personal homes we take for granted that we have to help these women with.”
Formed in 1985, the domestic violence center and its shelter meets the needs of women and their children by providing a safe environment for them to temporarily stay and work toward future goals like securing housing, education or a job, if needed. Typically, the individuals reside at the shelter for 30 to 60 days, during which a support group, legal advocacy and community resources are at their disposal. While men who are victims of domestic violence are unable to reside at Tranquility House, they are provided with other shelter options.
“I just think that it’s very important for the community to know that we are a 24-hour facility, we have a crisis center that is manned 24-hours and that no we don’t like to talk about domestic violence but domestic violence is here,” Ellington said. “And ... we need to rally around and support our shelter so that we can support those victims of domestic violence.
“We thank our community. We thank the United Way. We thank the churches that sponsor us. We thank the individuals that sponsor us. We thank our police departments that support us and our other local agencies because we do partner with other agencies. So we just want to thank people. You just can’t thank people enough. [So] we just want to thank them for all they do for us but let everyone know that we do need help. We need volunteers. We’re always in need of volunteers. We’re always in need of cash, gas cards, gift cards because with the budget restraints we definitely need to purchase food and things like that.”
For more information about the golf tournament, prospective participants and sponsors need to contact the Christian League for Battered Women at 770-386-8093. The domestic violence center also operates a crisis line, which is 770-386-8779.