The Woman, Thou Art Loosed conference, hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes and his wife, Serita Jakes, kicked off Thursday afternoon with thousands of women seeking healing and encouragement.
The Oct. 21-Oct 23 symposium was organized to address the specific spiritual and practical needs of women, especially those victimized by domestic abuse. This year's conference is scheduled in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Dona Chatman, who has been attending the conference since its inception in 1992, has a past filled with abuse. After being physically, mentally, and emotionally abused over 40 years ago, she still bears the scars of her past.
"I learned not to be ashamed of my past. I was embarrassed that I was abused so severely, but I learned that everyone has issues," she said in a statement. "When I started working with Rahab International Ministries and listening to other ladies' testimonies, I realized that I was not the only one. And it was nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about."
Now the Executive Director of the program, Chatman shares her story openly in hopes of helping someone out of the 3 million domestic violence victims in this country.
Ahead of the three-day conference, volunteers – through Rahab International and MegaCARE of The Potter's House (Dallas megachurch) – assisted at various domestic violence shelters throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area, providing clothing, supplies, personal care items, maintenance, repairs as well as support and encouragement.
This year's event is featuring a star-studded lineup of guests and entertainment industry professionals, including Emmy and Oscar-nominated actress Angela Bassett, Judge Glenda A. Hatchett of the "Judge Hatchett" TV program, the legendary Christian contemporary and gospel vocalist Vanessa Bell Armstrong, and Grammy-winning songstress Karen Clark Sheard of the renowned Clark Sisters, among others.
Since its 1992 inception, the conference has drawn more than 500,000 women.
Woman Thou Art Loosed has transformed into a best-selling book, a widely-acclaimed stage play, and a Grammy-nominated CD. In October 2004, Woman, Thou Art Loosed, the movie, became a box office top 10 hit winning a 2005 NAACP Image Award.