By Stan Friedman
CHICAGO, IL (November 4, 2013) — The overwhelmingly positive response to the recent Advocacy for Victims of Abuse (AVA) training at North Park University—the first ever given on a campus—indicates the great need and interest among young people to engage the issue, says the program’s director, Yvonne DeVaughn.
The training helps participants to recognize signs of abuse and to help victims along a journey of healing. It is sponsored through the Covenant’s Department of Women Ministries.
DeVaughn wasn’t sure what level of interest there would be in the training, which was held October 27. “When I walked onto the North Park campus at mid-day, I must admit that I had my doubts that the pre-registered students would really come to a seven-hour training about domestic violence and childhood sexual assault,” she said. “To my surprise, students started arriving early and began helping to set up the room.”
DeVaughn, a survivor of domestic violence, shared her own story as did another presenter. Students also volunteered their own insights and experiences.
“I was struck again by how pervasive and destructive violence is in our culture and Christian communities,” DeVaughn said. “Among those bright, engaged, and hopeful young people was a microcosm of painful pasts that impact them even as they reach forward and embrace their futures.”
The training addressed topics such as the cycle of abuse, what to say or not to say to victims, and resources that are available.
A nurse who attended the training said afterward that it will help her better recognize the signs of abuse suffered by patients. Others said they were eager to bring the information back to their congregations. Participants added that hearing personal stories from the presenters also demonstrated that healing was possible.
“It is my dream that this training will be a catalyst to provide more AVA training and awareness events on campus, to capture the imagination and brilliance of young leaders to create ways to change this ugly plight in our communities, and to increase the number of support groups for those who want to break silence and begin a healing journey,” DeVaughn said.