By Karen Stokes
Rhonda Armon-Bent has spent years working in various positions with area agencies. Six years ago, she created her own organization to counsel people in the community through the Power of Change Incorporated.
“I’m helping my community make better choices,” said Armon-Bent.
The Power of Change, 2821 N. 4th St., is based on the philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”
“There is power in making changes,” Armon-Bent explained. “As you continue to grow, you move, for example, from a caterpillar to a butterfly.
We can change where we are.”
The Power of Change offers outpatient day treatment for mental illness and Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) services. Armon-Bent tries to build relationships with her clients so they feel comfortable.
“The first session is always free,” Armon Bent said. “Just ‘chopping it up’ to find out what the client is feeling, to build a rapport.”
Armon-Bent revealed that the Power of Change recently became the first agency in Milwaukee certified in mental health, substance abuse and domestic abuse.
“They are all connected, co-occurring disorders,” Armon-Bent said.
“The rate of domestic violence is growing. People are frustrated and often times don’t know what to do with their anger.”
According to a survey conducted by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in a single day, 2,100 people were served by a domestic violence program, yet 250 victims were turned away due to lack of resources.
Services and support for domestic abuse victims are vital to the healing and their journey to being survivors.
Based on 2012 Wisconsin Department of Justice statistics:
There were 28,729 reported incidences in 2012.
The majority of women abused were between 18-40 years old.
19,882 of the victims were white.
7,630 of the victims were Black.
970 of the victims were Hispanic.
Of all the victims, 23,410 were women and 7,144 were men
“Men don’t fully utilize the available resources for situations of domestic violence,” Armon-Bent added. “They are less apt to get a restraining order or a police report because it is seen as a sign of weakness.”
“Judges are becoming more aware that they need to take domestic violence for men as seriously as they do for women. Men have died from abuse,” said Armon-Bent.
“The African-American community is reluctant for therapy. We are taught that what happens here, stays here,” Armon-Bent said.
“African-Americans are becoming more open minded that therapy isn’t a bad thing, but a good thing.”