Event opens dialogue about domestic violence

Nikasha Dicks/Staff
Yasmin Thomas-Goodman, a senior domestic violence advocate, discusses the signs and effects of abuse.

There was a lot of laughter, sharing of stories, and candid questions and answers during the Girls Night Out event Friday.


Held at Williams Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, the event focused on women's health and communication between women and their daughters.

"Girls talk with each other. Women talk with each other. But sometimes, there's a blockage between the mom and the daughter where they can't talk with each other. It's about communication building between the two," said Susie McGill, a second-year medical student and an organizer of the event.

Throughout the night, there were discussions on HIV, AIDS, STDs, non-STD infections and domestic violence.

Getting anyone, including mothers and daughters, to talk about those topics is a tough task, Ms. McGill said.

"People don't want to talk about HIV and AIDS. They try to keep it hidden, but it's a part of Augusta. It's a part of our community and we need to talk about it," she said.

The event's location helped open the dialogue in the community about HIV and AIDS, said Kathleen Childs, who works with the Medical College of Georgia Ryan White Outreach Program and was an organizer.

"We hope that by bringing it out in the open, people won't be able to live in denial, as if it doesn't exist ...," she said. "By bringing it out in the open, and in all places, in a church setting, it says that it's OK to talk about it.

"If you can talk about it in a church, that will help erase the stigma."

AIDS testing was urged by speakers at Friday's event.

"We want women to get tested and dismiss some of the stigma that surrounds getting tested," Ms. Childs said. "When you mention HIV testing, some women think that we are trying to say that they are bad or are living a bad lifestyle, and we're not."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV. The CDC recommendation shows that it can't be seen as a disease that affects only homosexuals, drug users and those who are promiscuous, Ms. Childs said.

Overall, organizers hope that women who attended have become comfortable talking about their bodies and how to take care of them.

"We just want people to understand that they need to know about the body and to be comfortable with their body. ...," Ms. Childs said.

Girls Night Out was sponsored by the MCG Medical Women's Association, the MCG American Medical Student Association, the MCG Ryan White Outreach Program, the Williams Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and the Williams Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal AIDS Ministry.

Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or nikasha.dicks@augustachronicle.com.



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