In the midst of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Christian League for Battered Women's staff and supporters continue to “shine a spotlight” on this pressing issue. Along with the nonprofit's second annual Candlelight Vigil being presented Tuesday, the Rock the House fundraiser will take place in November.
“Our first priority is to ensure safety, then shelter, resources/ referrals, legal advocacy, children/teen services and tranquility,” said Zanett Ellington, community relations coordinator for Christian League for Battered Women, which operates the Tranquility House Domestic Violence Center. "We are able to provide these services from grants and community participation. Even though people don’t understand or think it doesn’t affect them, the plight of domestic violence is real and we still need everyone’s help. Everyone deserves the right to live a life without violence.
“We received the final count from Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which stated that 84 lives were lost from Oct. 1, 2018 - Sept. 30, 2019, in the state of Georgia due to domestic — intimate partner — violence and two of those beautiful lives were here in Bartow County.”
Now in its third location, Christian League for Battered Women was established in 1985. The nonprofit's Tranquility House provides a place for women — and their children — to temporarily stay and work toward future goals, like securing housing, education or a job, if needed.
While residing at the Bartow County shelter, women have access to a support group, legal advocacy and community resources. Even though men, who are victims of domestic violence, are unable to reside at Tranquility House, they are provided with services and other shelter options.
"Sadly, hundreds of people pass away every year due to intimate partner violence," said Teresa Millsaps, executive director of Christian League for Battered Women. “Tranquility House’s second annual Candlelight Vigil is being held in October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, to remember those lost in Georgia over the last year as a result of this senseless crime.
“We light a candle in their memory and listen to inspiring testimonies from survivors, child survivors, victim advocates, government officials, faith-based groups, health care providers, business leaders, police officers, concerned citizens, families, friends and coworkers. Each participant will light a candle as the names of the 84 victims are being read.”
Partnering with the Sexual Assault Center of Northwest Georgia, Tranquility House’s Candlelight Vigil will take place at 6 p.m. at the Dellinger Park gazebo, 100 Pine Grove Road in Cartersville. As Millsaps noted, the gathering will feature several guest speakers, including Judge Brandon Bryson, Adena Harper, Dawn Heisler and a domestic violence survivor.
“It’s difficult to express how moving the vigil is when you hear so many names being read and see the lit candles,” Millsaps said. “I usually tear up hearing survivors share their stories talking about the pain and fear they endured. Then I think about the strength it took for them to become survivors.
“The vigil reminds me how we must come together and make a difference for victims. I don’t want us to keep adding silent witness silhouettes to our vigil. I want families to be safe in their homes. I think the vigil helps to remind us all how horrible it is for a person to lose their life by someone they love.”
For Millsaps, when the community comes together for an event, like this, it “sends a message” of promoting change and standing strong.
“According to the National Statistics Domestic Violence Fact Sheet, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime,” she said. “These facts should not be ignored. In October, the nation observes National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and shines a spotlight on what each of us can do to end intimate partner violence.
“The Violence Policy Center annual study ranks Georgia in the Top 10 of states where women are murdered by men. The study looked at the past 10 years and Georgia has remained in the Top 10 for five of the years. Four silhouettes will stand in silent witness to this tragedy and 84 flags will represent lives lost.”
Rock the House
Sharing Christian League for Battered Women's “success is because the community cares,” Ellington said “there are never enough words to express our appreciation” for the nonprofit’s many supporters, citing specifically those involved with the golf tournament and the Cartersville Woman’s Club.
Following the nonprofit’s 23rd annual golf tournament — which generated nearly $17,000 at Woodland Hills Golf Club Oct. 4 — the CWC’s Rock the House event will be presented Nov. 2 at the Cartersville High School Auditorium. Holding a large benefit during odd-numbered years — and making smaller donations in between — the 20-member club has raised a total of about $11,000 for Christian League for Battered Women.
“Domestic Violence Awareness is our international organization's signature project and all clubs are encouraged to plan and execute projects that target the goal of making people in our community aware of this type of violence,” said Brenda Worley, president of the CWC, which is affiliated with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. “In the past, we have had a ladies' tea as a fundraising project for Tranquility House. This year, we decided to get everyone involved by hosting a musical event.
“… We will have local performers who have donated their time to entertain us. Montie Esworthy, Sam Holladay, Eric Prawel and Jeff Tuggle will be the acoustical performers and The RJS will be the rock band that will close the show. Alan Sanders has gifted us with his skills as emcee and Rick McKee has graciously agreed to be our stage manager. There will be food trucks available at 5 p.m. and the music will begin at 7 p.m.,” she said, adding there also will be a 50/50 raffle, with tickets costing $10 per person.
Tickets for Rock the House are $20 through Oct. 30 and $25 at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets, call Worley at 678-899-7872 or follow the group’s Facebook page, GFWC Cartersville Woman's Club.
Further details about the Christian League for Battered Women and its vigil can be obtained by contacting the nonprofit at 770-386-8093 or visiting www.tranquility-house.org.