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Local events
Oct. 8-12: Chalk it Up to Awareness
Colleges, businesses and other organizations use colored chalk to create sidewalk billboards to raise awareness about domestic violence. To participate, contact Kelsey Cottrell at 424-4908 ex. 243 or kcottrell@ywcaerew.org
Oct. 15-19: Peace story time
In celebration of YWCA National Week Without Violence, schools and libraries in the area will gather for “Peace story time” to educate students about peace and nonviolence. This year’s story is “Hands Are Not for Hitting.” For a list of participating libraries or if for libraries wanting to participate, contact Sydney Weaver at 424-4908 ex. 287 or sweaver@ywcaerew.org
Oct. 22-26: Hope Awards
Each day of this week, YWCA Northeast Indiana will select and recognize a recipient who exemplifies excellence in advocacy for domestic violence, empowerment of women, racial justice, Junior Hope Award and child advocacy. For more information contact Steve Miller at 424-4908 ex. 252 or smiller@ywcaerew.org
Source: YWCA Northeast Indiana
Participants walk from the YWCA to the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge for a ceremony as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Honoring abuse victims

Domestic Violence Awareness Month kicks off at event

Photos by Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Participants in the YWCA’s seventh annual Flowers on the River event throw carnations, each symbolizing a life affected by domestic violence, into the St. Marys River on Monday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge leading into downtown was bathed in purple lights Monday night honoring the first day of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Earlier in the evening, a crowd of about 25 people walked with carnations in hand from the YWCA, at 1610 Spy Run Ave., to the bridge for a moment of silence before throwing the flowers into the St. Mary’s River. This is the seventh year for the event, which marks the beginning of a month to remember the victims and survivors of domestic violence.

“This is a happy time for us to celebrate those that are in the process of taking that journey to lead a life free of domestic violence,” said Steve Miller, director of development and communication for the YWCA.

The entire month is not only about celebrating survivors, but also providing a call to action said Stephanie Feldman, a case coordinator with the YWCA, who works with victims and survivors.

Cheryl, who for privacy reasons asked The Journal Gazette to not use her last name, attended the event in the hope of raising awareness about domestic violence. About a year ago, Cheryl’s daughter and her 2-week-old granddaughter moved in with her to escape an abusive relationship, and she said her family, especially her daughter, is still affected almost daily by the situation.

Cheryl, her two daughters and her granddaughter, donned purple ribbons for the event and were among the few participants who weren’t YWCA employees.

“I don’t think the public is aware of the seriousness of domestic violence. It does kill,” Cheryl said.

According to statistics from the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, from July 2011 to the end of June 2012, 62 victims in the state died as the result of domestic violence nine of whom lived within the YWCA Northeast Indiana service area of Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, Wells, and Whitley counties.

Cheryl said she wasn’t aware of the seriousness until her daughter became a victim.

She said too many people don’t know or ignore the signs of an abusive relationship or simply don’t take action.

She said she’s created Facebook posts on the subject, but few people like, comment or share them.

“There’s a lot of issues and stereotypes we still have to overcome,” Miller said.

Cheryl said she hopes to be a voice in the community to spread the word and plans to attend other events throughout October.

“I’m usually pretty quiet, but when I’m passionate about something I really get going,” she said.

sarah.janssen@jg.net

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