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Event to honor Ginger Tanner, shed light on domestic violence

POSTED: September 11, 2013 12:58 a.m.

Domestic violence claimed the life of Gainesville woman Ginger Tanner in June. To honor her memory, shed light on domestic violence, and fund resources to assist possible victims, friends, colleagues and community leaders have organized a Sept. 20 event at Washington Commons shopping center.

“The event is for awareness for the community, awareness that there is help for women in these situations,” said Connie Finks, who had the idea for putting together the afternoon of awareness.

Finks, like many of the people whose lives were touched by Tanner, knew her through her work at 2 Shae Salon in Gainesville, where she is a stylist. Memorial T-shirts are being sold at the salon for $20.

“It was such a loss for friends and Ginger’s family to be taken so quickly like this, and I didn’t want it to be brushed under the rug,” Finks said. “We want to enlighten people that we as women need to pick up on signs of abuse. I personally wanted to do this, and I just talked about it, and it just sort of started generating other people who wanted to help.”

There will be a DJ, raffles, and at last count, about 25 vendors had confirmed their participation in the event at 250 John Morrow Parkway, Finks said. Tanner 54, was slain June 27 in an apparent murder-suicide committed by her husband.

“What we’re going to be doing is hosting vendors. All different kinds will be coming in, setting up their booths, selling different items from food to crafts to books. We’ve got a couple (of) people who have written books on domestic violence coming, and it’s just going to be a way to raise money for Gateway,” she said.

Finks was referring to the Gateway Domestic Violence Center in Gainesville, an advocacy group and resource for victims of domestic violence.

Executive Director Jessica Butler described some of the many harmful misconceptions about domestic violence.

“Many people think that domestic violence is an issue that affects poor, uneducated people; this is an issue that affects families from all walks of life,” Butler said. “Sometimes people say to me, ‘If a man ever hit me, I would ....’” It’s important for people to know that domestic violence is not a choice.”

She said Gateway can provide confidential resources.

“It can be embarrassing for women who are being abused to admit what is happening in their homes. All of Gateway’s services are confidential,” she said.

And Gateway is more than just a safe haven, she said.

“People sometimes think of Gateway as ‘just a shelter.’ It is important for the community to know that you don’t have to live at Gateway to receive help here,” Butler added.

Awareness is critically important, Butler said, because of how widespread domestic violence is. At least 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence, Butler said. Each year, Gateway helps about 1,000 people from Hall County.

It is encouraging, Finks said, that unlike 50 years ago, beyond nonprofit groups like Gateway, advocates for domestic violence victims work in the courts and the law enforcement agencies. But the silence on domestic violence speaks volumes to the stigma of abuse, she said.

“The silence of it is key. I have definitely found that out to be true since we started this campaign. I’ve had a lot of women who sat in my chair, and it sort of brought out some suppressed feelings that they hadn’t talked about,” she said. “A lot these (of) women don’t even tell their family, which organizations like Gateway talk about.”

And the idea of the event is to support and nurture women in many ways, Finks said. For example, there will be groups to educate and help women with health and physical fitness.

Empowering women is crucial, Finks said. In her experience, both personal and with others, she learned the importance of self-worth and self-love.

“I think that the No. 1 thing is to never lose who you are,” she said. “Don’t let someone have the power over you to tell you you’re unworthy.”

Tanner’s life had a violent end, but Finks said she should be remembered for her kindness and her compassion.

“She was just a personality that was willing to help with any situation that someone needed her in — be it money, or work or volunteer, or sitting and listening and having compassion. She was just a very caring person,” Finks said. “She just wanted to make the world a better place. Through all that, she learned how to hide the pain that was going on in her own life.”


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