Vickie Del Toro, a minister at The World Harvest Community Center has been leading a Domestic Violence Ministry for two years. She fought her way out of darkness, then went back to draw others out to safety. Vickie candidly says ” I didn’t choose the Domestic Violence ministry, it chose me.”
Domestic violence was a normal occurrence for Vickie when she was a child. This was the beginning of the rage that was brewing inside of her. When she was about 16 years old, she began attending an Evangelical Church where she developed a deep relationship with the Lord. She then started attending her first husband’s church. After only three months into the marriage she received her first beating and immediately wanted to leave. However, she endured the abuse for five more years. Her husband would beat her during both her pregnancies. She tried to make it work but quickly realized it was time to make a plan.
At the time, Vickie was working in the garment district, she decided to go back to school. Part of her plan was to get her degree in Business Administration to get a better job. As Vickie was suffering through her own turmoil she was developing a discernment to see other battered women within the same congregation. She encouraged another sister to go back to school with her.
When Vickie graduated as valedictorian, she was bruised receiving her degree but she knew she was closer to her plan. She went on to work for a Fortune 500 company, where she still works today. Then she moved to Brooklyn with her two small children and started her life as a working single mom. Btw, she bought her own house in her early thirties. On the outside she appeared to be in a really good space but on the inside she withdrew to a 20 year desert; where she suffered depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and addiction.
Vickie married a second time after 20 years of being single. Due to infidelity, the marriage did not work. As a result of her abuse as a child and in her first marriage she stands firm on her peace and happiness. She will not tolerate any nonsense in her life and I don’t blame her!
Vickie’s story is an inspiring story of determination and triumph. Unfortunately, not all domestic violence victims have the same outcome. There are countless women that end up disfigured or dead. During the pandemic there have been many cases because women are stuck home with their abusers. Vickie shared a story where a woman was able to escape the abuse during the pandemic by going to the police. Each police precinct in New York City has a domestic violence advocate. You can just walk in and ask for the advocate.
The Domestic Violence Ministry meets once a month at The World Harvest Community Center. Only victims are allowed to attend the meetings. They have opened the doors to abused men as well. They provide breakfast, a time of fellowship, prayer and teach the Word. They also provide counseling and connect member with outside agencies. The team that works alongside Vickie is Yvette Sosa, Regina Fiorello Stafford, Maritza Rodriquez and Linda Obeda. The ministry is currently working with other churches to develop their own programs.
Anyone dealing with domestic violence should do the following:
1. Make a plan to escape – pack a bag with money, documents, clothes, etc in case you need to run out the house. – start the process to position yourself to be able to support yourself. For example: go back to school, get a job, etc.
2. Quietly seek a support system – tell someone you trust, seek counseling, seek an advocate, babysitting etc. Every precinct in New York City has a domestic violence advocate and Safe Horizon. All you need to do is walk in.
Below are some statistics from The National Domestic Violence Hotline: