Breaking silence on abuse discussion panel to be held on JUTN campus

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KNOXVILLE— A panel discussion will be held tomorrow, at 5 p.m. to raise awareness on the issue of abuse in America. The event has been organized and promoted by the JU Students Promoting Social Unity organization.

The panel will include members of the community, each with different perspectives on the issue of abuse.

Captain Greg Faulkner will be coming as a representative of the Knox County Sheriff department, and he will be bringing a victim advocate with him to participate as well.

Katelyn West from the Sexual Assault Center of East TN will be providing a therapists perspective on the panel.

As a voice for the Christian church, Pastor Keith Nix from the Lift Church in Sevierville will join the panel as well.

Along with these members there will be two JU students giving their perspectives on the subject as abuse survivors; Chastedy Johnson and Sherell Pierre-Jean.

Johnson said that it was through her and Pierre-Jean’s experiences at Johnson that they began to realize the need to start the conversation about abuse.

“It came to our attention that this is a topic that is not really talked about within the church context and also on our campus,” said Johnson. “We have also come into contact with a lot of people that have experienced abuse that just don’t feel like this is a safe environment to talk about it, so that’s how it got started.”

By starting the conversation through the panel, Johnson said she hopes to increase the awareness and willingness of others to talk about their experiences as well.

“Our goal is to at least start the conversation so that conversation turns into several conversations,” Johnson said. “and is then a topic talked about in the church context and on our campus more often, and that people feel safe to talk, and that people feel safe on this campus.”

Johnson said that it is through her own personal experiences, and others on the panel, that they hope to bring about change in how the Knoxville community handles abuse.

“I am a survivor of abuse myself, and so is Shae, and so are a lot of other people we talked to,” Johnson explained. “In recent news we see a lot of abuse cases. Even though it’s on a Hollywood level, I think it’s something that we should be more accustomed to talking about in our society.”

As president of Students Promoting Social Unity, Johnson says that they are planning to continue to work on campus to create a higher level of awareness of abuse.

“This is just the first of many events that we will do to raise awareness,” said Johnson. “and to provide help for those people, and to just start the conversation on campus.”

Johnson said that everyone in the Knoxville community is welcome to come join and listen to the discussion tomorrow at 5 p.m.

In the last seconds of the interview, Johnson expressed her excitement for the event.

“It’s gon’ be good. Aye,” Johnson exclaimed.

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