Vigil sheds light ‘on a serious issue’

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Crisis Connection employees and their families walk a luminary-lined trail to raise awareness about domestic violence during Wednesday's Lighting the Way for Peace event hosted by Crisis Connection at Huntingburg City Park.

BY LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — Purple luminaria lined a path on the south end of Huntingburg City Park Wednesday night for Crisis Connection’s Lighting the Way to Peace vigil.

Crisis Connection hosted the vigil as part of its programming for Domestic Violence Awareness month, a nationwide campaign dedicated to eliminating domestic violence. At the local level, Crisis Connection is on the front lines of that effort, providing services to victims of the domestic violence as well as rehabilitation programs to the perpetrators.

“You being here helps us shed light on a serious issue,” Crisis Connection employee Angie Hostetter said in her opening remarks.

Decorated luminaries lined a walking trail during Wednesday's Lighting the Way for Peace event hosted by Crisis Connection at Huntingburg City Park.

According to statistics compiled by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one-third of women and one-fourth of men will be the victims of some sort of domestic violence in their lifetimes. In addition to the direct victims, 1 of 15 children are exposed to domestic violence each year, with 90 percent of those directly witnessing the violence, the NCADV found.

The NCADV’s profile for Indiana looked at 2013 and 2014 and found that on a single 2014 day, Indiana domestic violence programs served more than 1,000 victims, with about 200 more going without services due to a lack of resources. The profile also found that between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014, 67 Hoosiers died in domestic violence homicides, half of which were committed with guns.

At the local level, Crisis Connection has served 500 victims of domestic violence and sexual assault so far this year. The victims come from Dubois, Spencer, Perry and Pike counties. In Dubois County, Dubois County CASA and the Southwestern Indiana Child Advocacy Center Coalition also serve victims of domestic violence, though they focus on child victims.

“Despite the prevalence, many people will not say that domestic violence is an issue,” Hostetter said.

Lucien Anderson of Huntingburg, 3, hands a battery-powered candle to his mother, Ruby Rodriguez, of Huntingburg as they decorate luminary bags during Wednesday's Lighting the Way for Peace event hosted by Crisis Connection at Huntingburg City Park.

Domestic violence isn’t always physical, Hostetter said. Verbal and emotional manipulation, financial control and other harmful behaviors also fall under domestic violence. The NCADV defines domestic violence as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.”

Wednesday’s vigil aimed to engage the community in efforts to end domestic violence. Part of the solution in stopping such abuse lies in us, the people who are not directly affected, a Herald article from earlier this week said. It’s up to us to reach out in concern when we see someone who seems to be distraught or frightened or beaten down. At the vigil, community members were given the chance to become part of the solution.

“I do have a lot of friends who have had or know people who have had some domestic violence in their lives,” said Theresa Sanchez of Huntingburg.

John Sterrett, pastor of St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Dubois, said he attended to support efforts against domestic violence. Although he hasn’t dealt with domestic violence a lot in his congregation, he said he has heard of cases in the community, and he believes community support for victims and their advocates is important for the health of communities.

Crisis Connection employees and their families walk a luminary-lined trail to raise awareness about domestic violence during Wednesday's Lighting the Way for Peace event hosted by Crisis Connection at Huntingburg City Park.

“To me, this is  how we make our communities better,” he said. “It doesn’t make us worse admitting we have the problem. It makes us stronger to face it.”

The vigil was one of several events Crisis Connection planned for the month. The organization recently launched CrisisConnectionRocks, which places painted rocks around the community with contact information for Crisis Connection taped to the bottom.

A “Will Read and Sing For Food” show will also benefit Crisis Connection later this month. The show is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Parklands Pavilion in Jasper.

“We’re just trying to do different things to reach different people,” said Patty Klem, lead victim advocate for Crisis Connection.

Anyone in a domestic abuse situation can contact Crisis Connection for help at 812-482-1555 or crisisconnectioninc.org. The agency also has a 24-hour emergency hotline number that anyone in an immediate crisis can call: 800-245-4580.




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