On Centre | Around Philipsburg: Group helps break silence over domestic abuse

Domestic abuse isn’t an easy subject. It can be a minefield of hard conversations.

For victims, there is the coming to grips and a decision to get help. For family members, there can be a balance of wanting to lend a hand but not quite knowing how. For the community at large, there has to be acknowledgment that domestic abuse happens and a commitment to provide the services to help women — and men — who need support.

From 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, the Philipsburg area will have a chance to learn about domestic abuse while celebrating life and community in an event at the Chester Hill Borough Building.

Break the Silence Ministries is the group that formed at the First Church of Christ in the aftermath of Traci Raymond Miscavish’s death in 2013. A victim of domestic abuse who was breaking her own silence when she was killed, Raymond (her family prefers to use her maiden name) illustrated for many in the area the needs of Moshannon Valley women in abusive relationships.

Philipsburg sits about 20 miles from help from Clearfield County, about 30 miles away from help in Centre County. There is no shelter or counseling in Philipsburg or the small surrounding communities on both sides of the county line.

Saturday, there will be. Break the Silence Ministries will bring in three different groups to give information, provide help and even offer private, confidential counseling on-site if someone is in need. Speakers such as state representatives Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, and Tommy Sankey, R-Osceola Mills, Centre County Women’s Resource Center Director of Education Jodi Althouse and even a survivor of domestic abuse will talk about what is happening in Pennsylvania and closer to home.

But the event is about more than phone numbers and lists of signs to watch for and steps to take.

It is also about people coming together to share things they love: a good meal, sweet, homemade baked goods, the memories of great people. Raymond and another hometown woman lost to domestic abuse, Debbie Hollis, have trees planted in their memory at the borough building.

There will also be balloons. Break the Silence Ministries will sell balloons for people to release with messages. They will be launched at 3:45 p.m.

It’s easy to pretend that domestic abuse doesn’t happen in our town, in our families, in our homes. It’s just as easy to realize that it does, and to decide to do something about it.