Saturday morning rain may have hindered Domestic Violence Intervention’s Rockin’ Purple Ride with just six participants and no police escort, but the rain didn’t hinder the message delivered by Nilzara (Pietri) Atchison at the Eagles Hall.
Karen Moessner, DVI executive director, introduced Atchison, a 2003 graduate of Churchill County High School.
“Nilzara pursued the medical field by going to college to become an EMT and medical assistant,” Moessner said. “But it wasn’t until 2010 that she found her passion for mentoring while volunteering at an organization called Care Net.”
Moessner said Atchison started a purity group for middle and high school girls called Girls Club. She educates girls on topics such as sex, relationships, drugs, alcohol and peer pressure.
“Nilzara also developed the Restart program, which is a program customized specifically to the client’s need,” Moessner said. “It’s build to help them restart their lives, to help them overcome their past and to give them the tools to make positive choices for their future. She will talk about things like dating, coping, purity, co-dependency, the cycle of abuse, and so much more. She also does presentations at the middle and high schools in their sex and health education classes on healthy relationships.”
Atchison, who is the sexual integrity initiative coordinator for Care Net, said that’s a fancy title for a healthy relationship coach.
“I have a heart for healthy relationships and to help people find how to have a healthy relation and most importantly have a healthy relationship with themselves,” Atchison said. “I have a heart for this because I am a survivor of domestic violence. I was in two relationships, one for a little over a year and a half and the other one I was married. I would prefer that someone learn from my mistakes, rather than having them go through what I went through.”
The father-role plays a huge part in domestic violence, Atchison said.
“The father is the leader of the household, so he is the one who makes the atmosphere in the house, he sets the standers and morals in the house,” Atchison said. “Whatever happens in that house will become normalized. We become comfortable with what our atmosphere is, so if our atmosphere is crazy or unstable that’s what we’ll be comfortable with. We attract what is comfortable to us.”
Atchison said a daughter will learn how to be respected from her dad and a son will learn how to respect from his father.
“Parents need to be available to children before they need the time, before something happens,” Atchison said. “Doing so will install self-esteem, worth and value in them.”
National Fatherhood Initiative recently came out with a study about the impact fatherless homes have on children, Atchison said.
“The study reads, there is a crisis in America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America—one out of three—live without their biological fathers in the home,” Atchison said. “Consequently, there is a “father factor” in nearly all of the societal ills facing America today. Research shows when a child is raised in a father-absent home, he or she is affected in the following ways … Live in poverty, become pregnant, have behavioral problems, commit a crime, go to prison, abuse drugs and alcohol, suffer from obesity, drop out of high school and/or face neglect and abuse.”
Atchison said Care Net is ready and available to help. She said Care Net has courses for counseling, mentoring, tutoring, support groups, childcare and parenting and life skill programs. Atchison said all services are free and confidential.