'Our Terrible Epidemic' Public forum set in response of recent spree of violence

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Nov 18, 2019 at 10:32 PM

In response to a recent spree of violent offenses reported against women, Women Matter of Northeast Tennessee will host a public forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Park Community Center.

The forum, “Violence Against Women, Our Terrible Epidemic,” will feature the following panel of expert speakers:

• Tina Johnson, program director for SAFE House domestic violence shelters in Washington and Sullivan Counties;

• Teresa Southard, a registered nurse and certified sexual assault nurse examiner;

• Karen Boyd, an attorney with Legal Aid of East Tennessee who works closely with the Family Justice Center in Johnson City;

• Toni Callins, a victims’ advocate with Frontier Health and SAFE House;

• Jennifer Hasty, a Frontier Health counselor;

• Kim Bashore-Maki, founder of Shakti in the Mountains and a counselor; and

• Patricia Turner, a licensed social worker and crisis intervention specialist

Mickii Carter, a member of the Women Matter group, which promotes education and positive community change with a focus on social issues that impact women, said the forum was organized in response to a rash of 11 rapes and two especially violent slayings that occurred in Washington and Sullivan counties during a nine-day period in late October and early November.

Women Matter Chair Ruth Taylor said, “We are not content with the idea that we can continue with business as usual. So, we have invited a panel of experts who serve on the front lines every day providing resources for women and children in our community.

“We are urging regional citizens to join these professionals in a public conversation surrounding the need for change in this area, on this issue.”

Carter said rape is an offense that is not often publicized, “so we don’t (always) know about them.” What is known, she said, is that the Washington and Sullivan county domestic violence shelters were recently filled to capacity and the community is going through an especially violent time.

Carter said the group goal is for the forum to provide an opportunity for some brainstorming and some good ideas to reverse the trend.

The community center is located at 510 Bert Street.