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Panel hopes to promote love, not violence

Spousal abuse, substance abuse, child trafficking big issues, committee member says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Local organizations are getting together this Saturday to try to help overcome violence in the community. The First Church of Christ, Scientist is hosting an Overcoming Violence as a Community panel from 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday at its location at 994 Lincoln Way in Auburn. Michelle Coleman, executive director of PEACE for Families, will be among the panelists. Coleman said although some people might be surprised that violence is an issue in smaller towns or cities, PEACE sees clients from all over Placer County. “The one thing I can tell you is I know we serve individuals from Auburn,” Coleman said. “We serve individuals from Loomis. We serve individuals from every small community in Placer County. This happens across all strata. It has nothing to do with how much money you make, it has nothing to do with how old you are, it has nothing to do with education. Domestic and sexual violence affect everyone.” Coleman, whose organization works to help families heal after sexual and domestic violence, said there are two reasons why she wanted to speak on the panel. “I am hoping that (attendees) first of all understand that there are resources,” Coleman said. “If there are people in their lives who have experienced traumatic incidents … that there are resources out there (for them). I also want them to understand what (domestic or sexual violence) might look like. It’s just one of those things where a lot of people want to help survivors of domestic and sexual violence but they don’t know what it looks like. So I wanted to talk to people and say, ‘If you are seeing this, you might ask.’” Kirsten Agnew, a member of the church’s lecture committee, said the church has been hoping to become more involved in the community for a long time. “(It’s) to bring the community together as one and … get us all working together as one, realize we are all on the same team,” Agnew said. “It’s all about love.” The topic of violence in the community is an important one to educate residents about, said Gail Mackenroth, who is also on the church’s lecture committee. “It’s so important to know what is going on in our community so we can work to heal it,” Mackenroth said. Maryl Walters, an interfaith enthusiast and Christian Science lecturer and teacher, will be moderating the panel, which will include a question and answer session. Mackenroth said some specific problems connected to violence in our area are spousal abuse, substance abuse and child trafficking. Agnew said the Rocklin organization Courage to Be You is training her to speak on the topic of trafficking, and she plans to sit on the panel. Other panelists will include Roy Cunningham, a foothills representative from The ManKind Project, and Traci Peters from the Sierra Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and Community Recovery Resources. The ManKind Project is an organization that gives men a chance to get together and share their emotions and stresses before they could turn into violence, Cunningham said. “Men aren’t … supposed to cry,” Cunningham said. “We were told as children, ‘Big boys don’t cry,’ and we are not allowed to have our feelings. We are supposed to deny all these feelings we have had because we are supposed to be a certain way in people’s eyes. It comes out in sideways ways like we blow up, we are violent, we take out our aggressions on other people, on our women, on our children.” Cunningham said men perpetuate most violence in the world, and he hopes to talk about what his program has to offer to help men understand what the unconscious beliefs they hold about themselves and that holding themselves accountable makes them better men. “Like for me I realized I was really angry, and that’s part of my makeup,” he said. “If I can always know that I will respond out of anger because of this unconscious belief, then I can be aware of that when I’m dealing with people and my family. I can have anger in a healthy way, but anger that is attacking and violent is not.” Peters said she hopes to give people information about the connection between substance abuse and domestic violence. Peters said about 80 percent of domestic violence stems from substance abuse. “Often we get our clients through Child Protective Services or some sort of service that relates to domestic violence,” Peters said. “My stance on that is often people don’t hurt each other when they are clean and sober. I think if we address the substance abuse issues, we will see less domestic violence.” Agnew said the church hopes to continue these types of panels in the future. “I really want to stress this is the beginning,” she said. “I would like to see this an ongoing educational effort.” Coleman said it’s important for the community to get involved, because local organizations can’t stop violence by themselves. “The community has got to stand up and say, ‘Violence is not OK, and we are going to do what we can do to end it, stop it,’” she said. “It’s the community that sets the tone.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------- Overcoming Violence as a Community What: A panel including representatives from PEACE for Families, The ManKind Project, Community Recovery Resources and the Sierra Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. When: 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday Where: First Church of Christ Scientists, 994 Lincoln Way, Auburn Cost: Free, but donations will be accepted for the various organizations in attendance Information: Call (530) 885-4811 or visit csauburn.com