Annual event raises awareness about domestic violence
An event aimed at building awareness of domestic violence is building steam at the same time more cases of domestic violence are showing up in Rock County. The Walk A Mile-in Her Shoes event is scheduled for Friday, September 25th and has a goal do raising $50,000 this year. Kyle Geissler reports. You can read more in Wednesday's Janesville Gazette.
If you go
Who: YWCA of Rock County
What: 2009 Walk a Mile In Her Shoes community advocacy/awareness event to end sexual assault and violence against women and girls.
When: Friday, Sept. 25, with 4 to 5:15 p.m. registration, 5:15 p.m. opening ceremony, 5:30 p.m. 1-mile walk starts.
Where: Kutter Harley-Davidson/Buell, 3223 N. Pontiac Drive, Janesville.
Registration: Individual or team forms and pledge forms available online at www.ywcawalkamile.org or by calling (608) 752-5445. Motorcyclists are encouraged to participate in the Hogs in Heels portion of the event that asks cyclists to ride the 1-mile route.
Featured: Gourmet hors d'oeuvres, beverages and live music by Tim Markus, John Nelson and Adrian Farris plus a unique silent auction of 20 artistically decorated shoes created by local artists at the celebration event.
Cost: Minimum donation of $25 for nonwalkers suggested. Walkers who raise a minimum of $25 receive a complimentary ticket to the event. Walkers raising $250 in pledges receive two event tickets and walkers who raise $500 or more get four tickets. Reservations for the walk and the celebration event can be made at www.ywcawalkamile.org or by calling the YWCA at (608) 752-5445.
Proceeds: Benefit the YWCA in its prevention efforts and service to victims.
JANESVILLE Signs of domestic violence pervaded her home, only Suzie didn't see them.
Her husband told her where she could go, who she could talk to and what she could wear.
He also would get angry every few months when he'd break and throw things and mess up the house. After their separation in June, he began drinking daily. His anger kept building. And in August, he threatened to kill Suzie and her boyfriend then himself.
"He sounded like a maniac the way he was shouting and repeating himself," Suzie said of the early morning telephone calls from her estranged husband.
"I was scared. Very, very scared," said Suzie, not her real name.
Suzie immediately called 911. When police arrived, they reacted quickly and followed procedures to keep Suzie, 28, and her loved ones safe.
"I'm thankful they did all the things they did, otherwise it could have been a lot worse," Suzie said.
A couple days after the incident, when police went over a safety plan with Suzie, they gave her a pamphlet that listed all the red flags of domestic violence.
"I had most of them. I should have known. But I didn't know anything about the signs of domestic violence," Suzie said.
She is not alone.
That is why the YWCA is again leading efforts to raise community awareness and end sexual assault and violence against women and girls by sponsoring its third Walk A Mile in Her Shoes event on Friday, Sept. 25.
"It fits our mission, is related to our programming, has fund-raising potential and it puts unexpected ambassadors out in our community," said Allison Hokinson, community relations director.
The organization set a goal to have 150 walkers and raise $50,000.
The first walk was an advocacy awareness event when a few rallied for the cause and donated $1,500. Last year, 84 walkers and more than 200 people attended the post-walk celebration to raise $35,000.
Proceeds will be used for general funding in the YWCA's programming services for domestic violence: walk-ins, support groups, legal advocacy, shelter, food/clothing, personal products in the shelter, transportation, child care and respite care.
"It's all the things needed to support our clients—women and children in the shelter and recovery services," said Marilyn Lensert Harris, YWCA alternatives to violence program director.
Education about domestic violence in communities is more important than ever, agreed local officials, who work with domestic violence victims.
Domestic violence deadly locally
In addition to the number of domestic violence cases increasing locally, Rock County has experienced some recent high profile, deadly domestic violence cases.
That includes three incidents in August 2008:
-- An Albanian immigrant couple killed in an apparent murder-suicide at their Janesville home.
-- A man accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend in Beloit.
-- An Edgerton couple who both died in a murder-suicide.
Plus, in April of 2009:
-- A Janesville woman was fatally shot in her front yard by an accused jealous ex-boyfriend.
Why violence continues
"We haven't reached enough people in spite of all the efforts. There are still people so isolated in their lives," Lensert Harris said.
Hokinson said domestic violence continues for a number of reasons, but fear predominates.
"So if we can educate that this is a community issue, it can be decreased and even eventually prevented. The more people learn about it and talk about it, we're going to see those numbers change," she said.
Milton Police Chief Jerry Schuetz publicly advocates for domestic violence protection. He walked in the Y's event last year, will do so again this year plus also will speak.
"He walks the walk and even devoted a whole segment of his Citizen Academy training to recognizing signs of domestic violence and what average citizens can do to help," Hokinson said.
Schuetz explained his involvement.
"This is a critical, important issue facing our society. It's important to do what we can do to get the word out how serious this is and put a stop to it," he said.
Arrests, reported incidents
Milton reported 33 domestic violence incidents in 2008, Schuetz said.
"We are on pace to have similar arrests and, year-to-date, we've had 15 custodial arrests classified as domestic and a few other domestic disturbances," he said.
In Janesville, police made 591 domestic violence arrests in 2008, which was higher than any other year since 2004. Reports of 375 domestic violence incidents also were made during the first six months of 2009, said Lt. Tim Hiers.
If those numbers repeat for the second half of the year, incidents reported are on pace to be more than ever than during the past six years, according to statistics.
The YWCA of Rock County also is experiencing an increase in shelter nights in its crisis anti-violence services.
"We are 12 percent over last year's numbers" through July 31 in comparison to 2008, Hokinson said.
Meanwhile, Suzie lives in fear every day.
"I check my doors a lot to make sure they're locked. I check the windows to make sure they're locked. I don't like to go anywhere by myself. I bought pepper spray," she said. She also has a restraining order against her estranged husband.
"It definitely is not good," Suzie said, "when someone thinks they have to control you and tell you what to do."
-- One-fifth of the adults employed in the United States have been victims of domestic violence. 65 percent are women, 35 percent are men.—Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence
-- One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.—U.S. Department of Justice, Intimate Partner Violence
-- Health-related costs of intimate partner violence exceed $5.8 billion each year.—Center for Disease Control
-- Domestic violence is the single greatest cause of injury to women ages 15 to 44 in the United States—more than muggings, car accidents and rapes combined.—Verizon's Foundation site