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BALTIMORE-Bishop Cephas Richardson is a man who wears many hats–as a volunteer at a homeless shelter, an assistant at a civic association and as pastor of a Pentecostal church. But despite his activism and wideranging community involvement, Richards

BALTIMORE-Bishop Cephas Richardson is a man who wears many hats–as a volunteer at a homeless shelter, an assistant at a civic association and as pastor of a Pentecostal church.

But despite his activism and wideranging community involvement, Richardson had never considered volunteering his service as an advocate against domestic violence. That is, until his neighbor, Patricia Marble, was murdered on July 11 and her boyfriend, Sampson Ashby, was arrested by police as the prime suspect.

Greatly disturbed by the incident, Richardson was determined to see what he could do to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening to anyone else in his community. One way, he decided, was to raise the awareness on what he calls “domestic violence denial syndrome.”

“Couples who have been in domestic violence are not aware that domestic violence is a serious disease,” said Richardson, who said he grew up believing domestic violence was normal after watching his own parents fight. “One person’s hollering, the other person’s hollering-two adults can’t communicate. It could start there.”

Richardson wants people to take advantage of domestic violence social services which often offer safe shelter, transitional shelter and group and family counseling and a wide range of other services for domestic violence victims and potential victims.

Richardson knows that some of Patricia Marble’s neighbors also have friends in abusive relationships.

Sitting on the stoop of a building near Marble’s apartment, one of her neighbors, Tamira “Tray” Hall, acknowledged some of her friends were in physically and emotionally abusive relationships.

“Because they felt trapped and had no outlets at the time, they stayed and a lot have lost their lives,” Hall said.

“It’s the fear to go and the fear to stay,” she added. “Some people say, ‘Well, I’m going to stay for the kids’ or ‘I love him, and nobody else is going to want me.’ For me, I’m number one. If I’m in a situation where I need to get myself removed, I’m going to remove myself.”

“It’s a shame so many young women out here are being abused. And some young men are being abused, too, by the women in their lives. It’s not just a female thing. It’s a people thing. Get the help,” Hall said.

Walking back down the block, Richardson stopped in front of the apartment building where he would often greet his neighbor Patricia Marble and her two sons on his way to taking his daughter to school.

Shaking his head, he said, “That was a beautiful woman. That young lady I was trying to help from day one, since they moved into their apartment five months ago.”

Richardson didn’t know Marble was in an abusive relationship until he learned from neighbors who began calling the police after hearing outbursts the last few months.

“I’m going to lobby on this. I’m going to crusade on this,” he said, looking at Marble’s apartment.

Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspapers

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Copyright 2008 NNPA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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