A passionate advocate for domestic violence victims

October 24, 2011 by

Camey Thurner answers a question from the audience during her presentation Monday evening on domestic violence in rural communities.

Camey Thurner is quick to concede that she had a lot to learn when she began as an “outreach specialist” with the Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas eight years ago this month.

Originally from California with a background in property law and subdivision management north of the Bay Area, she didn’t know much about nonprofit organizations or reaching out to people in need. And, she adds with a laugh, “I didn’t know Kansas so I really didn’t know rural Kansas!”

After Camey Thurner's presentation, she led a brief candlelight vigil and prayer for victims of domestic violence.

But one thing she had in abundance was passion — and her passion about the issue of domestic violence and the people who are its victims was clear Monday evening as she gave the final presentation in the 2011 Concordia Speakers Series.

Thurner was the eighth speaker in the series that began in February, hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph at the Nazareth Motherhouse. About 40 people attended her hourlong presentation.

Thurner moved to Salina nine years ago to be with her mother, after her mother was diagnosed with cancer. When she started job hunting, she realized there weren’t many possibilities for her big-city background.

To help fill her time, she began volunteering at DVACK in Salina, where she did a little bit of everything.

“It took a very short period of time to see there weren’t many people volunteering,” she recalled, “and there weren’t very many people on staff.”

Before long, she was offered a job, first working out of the Salina office serving about 10 counties. Eventually, DVACK opened an office in Concordia and offered that position to her. She’s been here since December 2006.

In the small communities throughout North Central Kansas, she said, “My biggest concern is that people will never tell” about domestic violence — whether it’s abuse toward children, spouses or the elderly or disabled.

“What matters to the people I work with is that I’m here,” she said. “I don’t know all the answers, but I’ll help you find them. I know each person is different; a box to mark or a checklist to run through doesn’t work.”

Thurner emphasized that every person she meets with is given complete confidentiality, and she recognizes that survivors of abuse may struggle to trust anyone.

“But they need someone who believes in them and who doesn’t tell them what to do,” she added.

Thurner, meanwhile, is sustained by her Christian faith as she encourages others to share their painful stories.

“God is my father, I am only here as his servant,” she said. “That’s the only way I can be present them when they talk.”





2 Responses to “A passionate advocate for domestic violence victims”

  1. Jeanette Wasinger, csj on October 26th, 2011 4:21 pm

    This was a very special evening with Camey Thurner of DVACK. Some of the information was new to me. I did not think so much of domestic abuse in a rural community and how frightening it is for people who can’t get help. Her stories made me more aware. I felt the pain of so many people that Camey has listened to and helped. I think their situations are encoded in her. I admire her so much. So, I am remembering victims of domestic violence and Camey and others who assist in this urgent ministry.

  2. Anna Marie Broxterman on October 25th, 2011 9:49 am

    Sarah, what a powerful recap of Camey’s presentation! The stories I heard from her last night regarding the blame being placed on the victim rather than the perpetrator were ones I heard in a different setting in Silver City, NM and leads me to the same question: Upon what resources can we draw to make a difference in the legal system in support of the victims?

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