Domestic violence is not a topic most high school students want to learn about during their spring break, but a group of students from North Carolina learned a lot about this frightening issue.
Abby Martin, a senior and North Carolina Conference youth president, along with other young people from the conference recently participated in a Global Vision seminar on domestic violence at the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C.
Global Vision is a six-day trip sponsored annually by the conference to give youth insight into issues within their communities, as well as internationally. Tom Pritchard, a former General Board of Church and Society intern, coordinates the seminar.
Martin highlighted some of the facts the group learned during the seminar custom designed for them by Church and Society staff and interns:
Domestic violence is an issue that affects you, families, churches and communities at home and abroad.
Youth encounter domestic violence at home as well as through their peers who have first-hand experience.
High school and college campuses may have a culture of rape and violence.
Domestic violence issues are gender neutral.
Some cultures in the United States permit (or turn a blind eye to) domestic violence despite the laws against it.
Domestic violence issues internationally can be even more serious because, in some locations, the victim has few, if any, legal rights or recourse.
"One thing that stuck out to me the most and really inspired me during our D.C. seminar was a spoken-word activity we were able to participate in," Martin said.
At the end of the seminar, leaders challenged participants to summarize what they had learned by writing four lines of poetry about domestic violence.
"When these verses were put together, it created a powerful spoken-word poem," Martin said. "The passion was real – very raw, real and life changing."
Martin said she plans to take what she learned from Global Vision back to her home church (Horne Memorial United Methodist Church in Clayton, North Carolina) and encourage the congregation to get involved in helping minister to domestic violence survivors in the community.
Polly House is a freelance editor and writer based in Nashville, Tennessee.