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Turning Point honors ambassadors

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Roy Knopp shakes the hand of his daughter, Amber, afterbeing recognized as one of the nine ambassadors who brought awareness to domestic violence.
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Brent Baker, center, receives the Community Partner Award on behalf of Shelbyville High School during Thursday’s ceremony.

By ROSS FLINT - rflint@shelbynews.com

Nine community members were recognized Thursday evening at Shelbyville High School for their participation as ambassadors of Turning Point Domestic Violence Services in their efforts to bring awareness to domestic violence in the community.

While most were unable to attend because of scheduling conflicts, Turning Point thanked them with a short ceremony and snacks in the cafeteria in front of family members and community members who previously pledged to prevent domestic violence in Shelby County.

The nine men – Logan Support, Brandon Schultz, Brandon Benesh, Tyler Cole, Brent Baker, Roy Knopp, Cody Montgomery, Adam Stafford and Mayor Tom DeBaun – were tasked with each finding 10 men to make that pledge.

“All these guys are really positive role models in our community and leaders in our community and so it got a lot of people excited that we were standing up with that message,” said Amber Knopp, community services director of Turning Point, during the ceremony

The original goal was to find 10 men, but one had to drop out, she said afterward. The goal was to find 100 men to make the pledge and despite losing one, the nine remaining managed to find 99. In total, 118 community members made the pledge, she said.

The Shelby County location borrowed the idea from the Bartholomew County office, which has had community members make the pledge in previous years.

The reason for finding participants was two-fold, Knopp said.

First it was to raise awareness among men. Turning Point events typically draw mostly women, she said.

“Domestic violence is not just a woman’s issue. It is an everyone issue,” she said, adding that 1-in-3 women and 1-in-4 men will be victims. “They’re experiencing this at almost the same rate that women are experiencing this. We want men to know how important men are and instrumental in preventing domestic violence in our community.”

The second reason was the organization goes into local schools to provide a prevention program called Safe Dates. The program teaches teenagers about healthy versus abusive relationships and provides signs of what an abusive relationship looks like.

“(There is) a lot of really really important topics for them to be learning as they’re starting to date and starting to get in relationships,” Knopp said.

The problem is that when teenagers go home, they may not witness healthy relationships, either through parents, among their peers or on television, movies or music, which is “going to have a lot more influence on them than what I can in two weeks,” she said.

Two of the participants were able to attend Thursday’s celebration and a third, Stafford, was represented by his son, Anthony.

Knopp’s father, Roy, was one of the ambassadors chosen. He said he did it to support his daughter.

“I’ve always been a family-oriented guy and always put a lot into my family,” he said afterward. “Obviously, to see her get involved in something like this, I totally want to support her. It makes me proud as heck that she does what she does.”

Baker, who is in his first year as the principal at the high school, said he didn’t have any experience with domestic violence growing up. It wasn’t until he took over at the high school that he started dealing with it.

He said he knew how hard it was on families who are dealing with it.

“It’s hard on me dealing with it,” he said. “And so when I was given the opportunity to do this, I took it.”

Baker made a video in the high school television studio to raise awareness that was shared by others through social media.

“Anything I can do to help bring awareness to Shelbyville and domestic violence, I’ll do it,” he said after the ceremony.

Amber Knopp said she didn’t know what to expect at the beginning, but believed the organization was successful in raising awareness through social media. She added that she plans to continue the program and already had some of this year’s ambassadors agree to do so again next year.