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  Safe Sanctuaries presents Domestic Violence Seminar at Avila  
  Kansas City, MO    
May 3, 2010

Rev. Aleese Moore-Orbih pointed to three facts pertaining to domestic violence of women and children in the U.S. that made her cringe.

There are 3.3-10 million children exposed to domestic violence each year.

Roughly 60 percent of those victims are subjected to physical and/or sexual abuse.

Only 25 percent of those who get exposed get involved or report incidents.

That last fact especially was the reason about 200 clergy, workers and volunteers at Kansas City-area shelters and concerned citizens gathered April 29 at Avila University for Safe Sanctuaries: An Interfaith Clergy Conference on Family Violence, a seven-hour seminar meant to encourage awareness and strengthen support systems for local domestic violence victims. The Metropolitan Family Violence Coalition hosted the event, which was free and open to the public.

About 200 clergy, domestic violence shelter workers and volunteers and concerned citizens attended a seven-hour educational seminar based upon recognizing and aiding victims of domestic violence against women and children, held April 29 at Avila University. Some of those attendees posed for a picture before the event. They are, from left: Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff, The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah; Susan Lebovitz, volunteer manager, Safehome; Cindy Molini, chaplain, community volunteer; Elizabeth Wheeler, development coordinator, Newhouse Shelter; Sharon Katz, executive director, Safehome; Cathy Weidmaier, pastoral care coordinator, St. Bernadette Parish; Karen Herman, community volunteer; Deborah Fletcher, case manager, Friends of Yates Inc.; Sr. Ann Loendorf, community volunteer; Rev. Aleese Moore-Orbih, director of training and consulting, FaithTrust Institute; Shirley Troupe, volunteer manager, Synergy Services; and Rabbi Mark Dratch, trainer and consultant, FaithTrust Institute. Not pictured: Gretchen Hicks, volunteer programs manager, Hope House; Pat Longstroth, chaplain, Rose Brooks Center; Tina Malinowski, community education specialist, Rose Brooks Center.


Moore-Orbih, director of training and consulting for the FaithTrust Institute, a national, multi-faith, multicultural training and education organization working to end sexual and domestic violence, kicked off the proceedings with the first of two keynote speeches. Her message to the audience focused on the power of love being all-important in combating the evil that is behind domestic violence.
“At the end of the day, victims of domestic abuse want one thing – love,” Moore-Orbih said. “It’s the one thing they’ve thought they never had.

“Love is the framework for our ethics. It’s ultimately love that dismantles evil.”

Rabbi Mark Dratch, founder and chief executive officer of JSafe, a Jewish institute that supports abuse-free environments, as well as a trainer and consultant with FaithTrust, used the second keynote address of the day to turn the spotlight back on his fellow clergy.

“How can we speak about repentance when we haven’t repented?” Dratch said. “How can we speak about kindness when we haven’t been kind? How can we speak about God’s forgiveness when we haven’t yet asked God to forgive us?

“We have to learn to say the right things and do the right things. And if we don’t know the answers – if it’s out of our area of expertise – then we need to learn.”

In between keynote speeches, the audience divided into smaller groups for breakout sessions that covered the impacts of domestic violence on children, identifying and helping batterers, counseling, legal issues and dating violence. A panel of domestic violence survivors also talked about their experiences with domestic violence and the impact it had on their lives.

One of the main organizers behind the event, Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff, The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah, said early in the day that he wanted the seminar to accomplish two things: to have everyone sign the Safe Sanctuaries pledge to recognize that domestic violence exists and commit to working toward its eradication and to give clergy training on how to recognize and help victims of the crimes.

“The best thing that could happen would be for all domestic violence shelters around the world to close,” Nemitoff said. “Unfortunately, there’s still a growing economy when it comes to this issue.”

View KSHB's coverage on this event.


About Avila University
Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.