Meara Kwee • Derry Member

It is estimated that more than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States will experience rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime (CDC).

A November 2021 report by UN Women found that since the start of the pandemic, violence against women has become more severe across the globe. The report finds that women have experienced more violence since the start of the pandemic and they feel less safe overall. While COVID-19 has taken a psychological toll on all of us, women who are also exposed to violence, particularly physical violence, experience increased stress and anxiety.

Since 1975, Derry Presbyterian Church has supported the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg. The YWCA’s Violence Intervention and Prevention programs provide free and confidential crisis and counseling services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence, including a crisis hotline, safety planning, individual and group counseling, medical and court accompaniments, and referrals to local services. The YWCA also provides a shelter for women and their children who are experiencing domestic violence, as well as a legal clinic. To raise community awareness and to prevent domestic and sexual violence before it happens, the YWCA provides free, age-appropriate workshops for preschools, schools, colleges, youth groups, community groups and workplaces.

While domestic and sexual violence disproportionately affects women and girls, we all play a role in prevention and supporting survivors. In addition to supporting Missions at Derry, you can help by taking the following actions:

  1. Educate yourself. Start by checking out the resources at Presbyterian Mission, Faith Trust Institute, RAINN and Love is Respect. Attend the January 23 Issues Class and learn from a YWCA prevention educator about domestic and sexual violence and how you can help.
  2. Believe survivors. If you know someone experiencing domestic or sexual violence, believe them. Understand that it can be hard to seek help and to leave abusive relationships. Ask how you can support them and let them know about the services that the YWCA provides. The 24-hour crisis hotline is available at 1-800-654-1211.
  3. Talk about this issue. Invite a prevention educator from the YWCA to speak at your workplace, school or community group. Talk to the children and teens in your life in an age-appropriate way about body safety, consent and healthy relationships.
  4. Speak up! When you hear someone make a sexist, homophobic or racist joke or a comment that minimizes domestic or sexual violence, say something. These small, seemingly “minor” comments contribute to an overall culture that perpetuates domestic and sexual violence.

Through Derry’s support of the YWCA Greater Harrisburg and each of us taking the steps listed above, Derry members and friends contribute to a safer community for all.