Nearly 60 volunteers marched the streets of Glendale and Burbank on Monday to raise awareness and gain support for a new domestic violence help center that they hope will make inroads with Armenian families.
Volunteers met in front of St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church in Glendale and walked to St. Leon Armenian Apostolic Church in Burbank, marching under the slogan “Violence Hurts, Love Conquers.”
Fr. Vazken Movsesian of St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church in Glendale formed the domestic violence task force under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America.
“Nobody has a right to hurt a human being,” Movsesian said. “You don’t have a right to hurt your wife and your children. In these cases, I don’t look at statistics because if we have one case, that’s too many.”
The purpose of the domestic violence task force is to create a resource center where victims can get help and support, or be taken to a safe place. The center, with a central office at the Western Diocese in Burbank, will probably open this fall, organizers said.
The walk ended in Burbank St. Leon Armenian Cathedral, where Derderian conducted the blessing ceremony of volunteers.
The blessing was followed by a vigil to commemorate the presentation of baby Jesus to the Temple by his family.
In his address to the congregation, Movsesian discussed domestic violence and the mission of this initiation.
“I stand here for people who lost their daughters, brothers and sisters because of domestic violence. I stand here for the mother who lost her daughter, for the brother who lost her sister, to say ‘No more.’ Violence hurts, love conquers, and we are to be that love among our families,” he said.
The walk was the first step in bringing the issue to the surface for public discourse in a community where the taboo of domestic violence is still strong, organizers said.
“We need to get people to wake up and say that this is a real problem,” Movsesian said. “We need to get people to start thinking about doing things to overcome this issue.”
The problem of domestic violence needs to be discussed, said Suzie Shatarevyan, a reference/digital management librarian at Loyola Law School and a producer at Epostle.net.
This issue is prevalent in Armenian families, and it can be physical and emotional, she said, adding that domestic violence problems should be openly discussed so that others can participate in the discourse.
Lilo Khachikian, an administrative assistant at St. Peter Armenian Church, said she joined the task force because the cause is close to her.
“Somebody’s daughter passed away from domestic violence; even though I didn’t know her personally, it is close to my heart,” she said. “I think about her every day. It’s really, really hard for me to see people get abused like that.”
The mission, organizers said, is to empower domestic violence victims with the resources and information they need to get back on their feet.
“It’s important to show support so that women and men who are victims of domestic violence can see that there are people in the community that support them,” said Christopher Armen, an attorney. “Hopefully, they will be more willing to report any violence so that perpetrators of the violence can be punished.”
More information about the task force and how to help get the resource center off the ground is available at inhisshoes.org.