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Published Tue, Nov 13, 2012 08:00 PM
Modified Tue, Nov 13, 2012 06:11 PM

Local minister fights for women’s safety

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- Correspondent

CLAYTON -- The Rev. Dr. Terence Leathers is committed to ending the streak of violence against women.

The pastor of Mt. Vernon Christian Church has spent years working toward educating the public about the perils of sexual assault and training young men how to positive role models. And now his work is about to be recognized.

Leathers has been named a nominee for the Men for Change Award, sponsored by the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV). Through a statewide nomination process open to the public, NCCADV received five nominations for men who are changing communities through their dedication to end violence against women.

His latest endeavor is a 9-month mentoring program for young men organized between the church, Harbor, Inc. and the N.C. Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA).

Leather’s helped write the curriculum for the Engaging Men Rites of Passage program which provides youths between ages 13 and 17 with the tools to create sexual violence free-communities.

For the last four years, Leathers and his church have partnered with Harbor, providing financial assistance, donations and support to the agency dedicated to helping victims of sexual and domestic assault. But Leathers felt they could do more.

“I’m hopeful that we can highlight what’s going on in our society and create programs to address domestic violence,” said Leathers.

“We have to do more than preach on a Sunday. We have to connect with groups in our community and educate the public.”

Mt. Vernon parishioner Robin Colbert nominated Leathers for the award. She was impressed with his dedication to the cause and how he used it as a platform to educate the community. Colbert noted Leathers frequently integrated the subject matter into weekly sermons, coordinated a candlelight vigil during Sexual Assault Awareness Month and was a participant in Harbor’s recent Walk the Trail in her Shoes fundraiser.

“He stepped it up a notch,” explained Colbert. “It’s a very hard subject to tackle. Dr. Leathers is engaging men and boys with sexual violence education and prevention training in an effort to prevent them from being a perpetrator.”

The Rites of Passage program has recently received grant funding and Leathers plans on rolling it out to the community within the next month.

Mentors are being trained by Harbor and NCCASA with at least 15 boys expressing interest.

“Our young men need to have clear understanding of sexual violence prevention so they are not a participant,” he said. “We also want them to stand up to someone when they see a women being objectified. They need to understand it is wrong. We want to work arm and arm with women to produce a better society.”

The recipient of the Men for Change Award will be announced on Nov. 15 at a banquet in Chapel Hill.

“If I don’t get it, that’s fine,” Leathers said. “Just the mere fact of being mentioned highlights the importance of domestic violence prevention. I’m hopeful we can support more programs on the subject.”

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