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An evening fundraising event for Turning Point of South Arkansas is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Funds raised will benefit the nonprofit, which educates individuals about domestic violence and provides support services for victims of domestic abuse.

New York Times best-selling author Janine Latus will serve as the event’s keynote speaker. Latus is the author if “If I Am Missing or Dead,” a story about her murdered sister and her own experiences with domestic violence.

“She delivers a pretty power-packed message,” event organizer Cheryl Howell said. “Her focus is awareness and action, and that’s our message: to be aware. We have a responsibility to each other as a community to be aware of what’s going on around us. That’s Janine’s message, becoming action-oriented.”

Latus has spoken to groups around the world, advocating for people to discuss their experiences of sexual assault and intimate partner violence.

“Nobody wants to discuss marital rape, it’s taboo,” Howell, a domestic violence survivor herself, said. “It’s a real problem. Every day, I speak with a woman who has gone through some kind of abuse. It gets to the point where you wonder if there is anybody who hasn’t been a victim. We’ve come so far, but we need to be more vocal about what is actually going on, so we can support each other.”

That communication is key, Howell said, adding that it’s important to be aware of support services as well. Turning Point partnered with the Arkansas Council on Domestic Abuse for the event, when the organization will highlight some “eye-opening domestic abuse information.”

“This is sheer personal opinion, but after the paradigm shift of the ‘60s and ‘70s, there was birthed a generation of women who put their foot down and said ‘We’re not going to do this anymore,’” Howell said. “It’s cycled all the way to the #MeToo movement, where women are finally coming forward. But I think, in the South, we still are still closed-minded to some extent.”

The trauma sustained by victims of domestic violence has a significant, long-term impact on them, Howell noted. That’s one of the reasons she’s committed to telling her story, providing platforms for other women to tell theirs, and connecting people with services.

“Life is too short and precious not to thrive,” she said. “I want to make sure people live a fulfilled and happy life: we have a responsibility as a community to do that.”

The fundraiser will begin at 6 p.m. Aug. 27 at the College Avenue Church of Christ’s Family Life Center. Attire is business casual. Tickets are $20 a piece, and tables are available for $400. To purchase tickets, call 870-862-3672 or visit the Turning Point office at 900 E. First in El Dorado. Donations can also be made by texting the word “turningpoint” to 44-321. Follow the texted link to give.

Turning Point has an emergency shelter which offers case management, advocacy, referrals and support groups for individuals, who can stay up to 30 days, with possible extensions. Howell said the emergency shelter is one of a few in the region that allow a parent to bring their children as well.

The organization, which was founded in 1983, also provides a 24-7 hotline for crisis intervention (870-862-0929), support and referrals, children and youth programs, women’s outreach, emergency response teams and community education.

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