The main speaker at the fifth annual Men Take a Stand march and rally at City Hall called on his audience to create more than one day of visibility and awareness about dating and domestic violence.

Jim Roberts, superintendent of Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., proposed more involvement with the Columbus-based nonprofit Turning Point Domestic Violence Services in various ways as he addressed about 75 people Tuesday, including males and females ranging from teens to retirees.

The crowd was slightly smaller than last year’s 100 people. This year’s group gathered and marched with a Men Take a Stand sign from Fifth and Washington streets to City Hall as part of marking Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“Perhaps we donate a certain amount of cash (to Turning Point),” Roberts said of his idea to expand the Men Take a Stand concept. “Perhaps we march as a group at every parade in Columbus to symbolize our unity and market our mission. Perhaps we find a way to work with the school system to mentor young men regarding the proper way to develop healthy relationships.”

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As superintendent, Roberts represents students, who comprise a significant audience for Turning Point’s awareness and education campaigns, and also its fundraising via the high school student-driven Dance Marathon that raises more than $100,000 each year for the cause.

Roberts’ background, which he highlighted including his wife and three daughters, also includes a strong and visible role against domestic violence.

During his time as Batesville Community School Corp. superintendent before coming to Columbus last year, Roberts was active with that city’s domestic violence shelter, Safe Passage.

His involvement included being a founding member of Safe Passage’s 100 Men Campaign, where an initial group of 100 Men contributed $100 each to provide much-needed funds to the not-for-profit organization while “sending a loud and clear message that the group was serious about its mission to increase awareness of domestic violence and its effect among men and women of all ages, and to proactively advocate for violence prevention,” Roberts said.

Roberts quoted from the Domestic Violence Roundtable website that whether or not children are physically abused, they often suffer emotional and psychological trauma from living in homes where their fathers abuse their mothers.

He added that additional research shows that children who experience domestic violence and other adverse experiences will not only struggle in school, but also struggle in life.

“Our children who are exposed to violence at home come to school in a prolonged fight-or-flight state of mind, which prevents them from focusing on long-term goals and strategies that can lead to success,” Roberts said. “For these children and families, a cycle of violence and poverty is created that tears at the fiber of our community.”

Some people at the event have been to every such gathering since they began. Columbus resident and business owner Tom Dell is among them.

“I simply think it’s always important to show support as being against domestic violence,” Dell said. “I mean, who wouldn’t want to do that? To some degree, I think that’s just part of being a responsible person in the community. And it’s important to show support for hurting people who may feel like they don’t have anyone’s support.”

Lisa Shafran, Turning Point’s president, thanked the crowd for their support.

“Your presence here today sends a loud and clear message that the men and women of Columbus and Bartholomew County are committed to taking a stand against domestic and dating violence,” Shafran said, “and will model healthy relationships for the next generation.”

Turning Point’s next event as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month is its Not-So-Newlywed Game to highlight healthy relationships at 6:15 p.m. Thursday at The Commons. A total of 238 tickets have been sold, with plenty of seats remaining, according to organizers.

About Turning Point

The not-for-profit Turning Point Domestic Violence Services’ mission, which began in 1975, is to work toward the prevention and elimination of domestic and dating violence. The agency does this through a myriad of education and awareness programs and events to highlight healthy relationships and warn of the damage of domestic violence to individual families and the community at large.

It operates an around-the-clock crisis helpline, an emergency shelter, legal assistance for victims and other programs.

Overall, the agency serves Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson, Jennings, Johnson and Shelby counties.

Information: 812-379-5575 or visit turningpointdv.org.

Award winners

Turning Point Domestic Violence Service leaders presented its annual Stand Up Award to two people this year: Capt. Chris Roberts, who leads the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department’s detectives division, and Sgt. Brian Plummer, a Columbus Police Department detective. The honor goes to a person who goes above and beyond to work to model healthy relationships white fighting dating and domestic violence.

Roberts has volunteered as a domestic violence liaison for more than a decade with Turning Point.

Plummer has been a domestic violence liaison with Turning Point for nearly two years.

Melanie Rasmussen, Turning Point’s director of legal services and training, lauded both for “so much care for this community and the work that we do. We cannot thank them enough.”

Plummer and Roberts said it’s important that police have the assistance of Turning Point’s training and education to better help domestic violence victims.

Key Turning Point statistics

In 2017, Turning Point Domestic Violence Services has:

  • Served 198 adults and children providing shelter.
  • Provided services to 237 clients locally and 665 agency-wide in its non-residential program.
  • Delivered 765 sessions of prevention education and professional training to 765 youth.
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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.