From left: Toledo Police chief William Moton, TPS superintendent Dr. Romules Durant, Tina Skeldon-Wozniak and Mayor Michael Collins attend the Toledoans United for Social Action's 2014 Nehemiah action meeting at Friendship Baptist Church in Toledo.
Toledoans United for Social Action is committed to collaborating with local officials to use reasonable solutions in addressing community problems, ministers with the organization say.
On Monday night, the faith-based organization discussed the issue of domestic violence during the annual Nehemiah Action meeting.
"When you look at this issue it is all around us. It is time that we put an end to it. To do that you have to change the culture. Sometimes that is the hardest piece," the Rev. Dennis Payne told more than 100 people gathered at Friendship Baptist Church on Nebraska Avenue.
Pastor Payne is pastor of Monroe Street United Methodist, one of the 24 congregations in Toledo area that formed TUSA.
At the Nehemiah meeting, named for a biblical prophet who led the Israelites to rebuild Jerusalem, Mary Krueger, director of the Women’s Center at Bowling Green State University, announced the names of six of 72 girls and women who had been killed by their boyfriends or husbands during the last several years.
Silhouettes of the victims from the local Silent Witness Project display were at the front of the church.
"The issue of TUSA is to focus on the human costs in the worst case scenarios," said Ms. Krueger, a co-founder of the Northwest Ohio Chapter of the Silent Witness Project. "They are not far-fetched. They really do happen."
The program's goal, she said, is to have men responsible for the murders to be held accountable, illustrate domestic violence's human costs, and ensure that victims are not seen as statistics.
"We can't afford to lose anyone to domestic violence. No one is disposable. No one is replaceable. Domestic violence is not individualistic problem. It is a community wide problem," she said.
Tammy Knighten, coordinator of the Child Abuse Prevention Program at Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center in Toledo, said 50 percent of the men who frequently beat their wives also beat their children.
She said children who grow up in violence are 15 times more likely to end up being abusive husbands and boyfriends.
"Men who have witnessed violence are more likely to abuse their own wives and children," she said. "Children who grow up in homes with domestic violence suffer emotional, behavioral, and cognitive problems and are at an increased risk for depression, poor school performance, and health problems, and are more likely to run away from home."
When asked by Rev. Payne about the problem of domestic violence, Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins said he has moved the Toledo Police Department unit that investigates domestic violence from the Safety Building to the Northwest District police station on Sylvania Avenue.
He said the number of officers that handle domestic-violence complaints has risen from one to two under his administration, and officers are receiving training to do victimless prosecution.
"We won't change this until we change the way we tolerate violence. A violent community is not a community that we should be a party of or we should live with," Mayor Collins said.
Organized in 1992, Toledoans United for Social Action has grown to a group of two dozen church congregations of diverse socioeconomic, racial, denominational, and geographic backgrounds representing more than 19,000 Lucas County Residents.
The organization has worked to address injustices in four areas: jobs, safety, youth, and education.