by Melissa Brunner
One of the first events in which I participated when I moved to Topeka was the YWCA's Week without Violence. I covered the candlelight vigil which kicked off the week, hearing from a teenager whose mother had been stabbed to death.
It was an emotional event, moreso for me because my own experience with violent crime remained so fresh. Many of you have heard me speak about surviving an abduction by strangers my last semester of college - being left in the trunk of my car in an alley in an inner city Milwaukee neighborhood. One of the most vivid recollections of the experience is how no one in that neighborhood came forward to help me. It was the first time I realized how people could be so afraid of "getting involved" that they would be willing to sacrifice someone else's life.
So fast forward to the Week without Violence. The YWCA's national website describes the week as a chance to take a stand against violence in all its forms. The shootings, the assaults, the threats, the bullying - it's time to take a stand.
Like many YWCAs, Topeka's targets much of its focus this week on domestice violence - and rightfully so. Through Oct. 11, the Topeka Police Department had already taken 1136 domestic violence repots this year. Through the same time period last year, they'd taken 902. In fact, we're already closing in on the 1193 total for all of 2011. So, yes, our community needs to understand that domestice violence is a very problem impacting our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and maybe even our own families. We need to be proactive in teaching our teens and young adults about healthy relationships and letting them know the resources available if ever they feel threatened.
If we can stand against domestice violence then perhaps we also can affect other forms of violence, and vice versa. Violent behaviors can permeate various aspects of lifestyles and relationships. In that way, domestic violence has the potential to impact each of us that much more.
The YWCA has a series of events planned for the week. You'll find them at www.ywcatopeka.org - the big one is the community wide March Against Violence at Noon Friday, starting at the steps of the Statehouse. Take a stand and get involved. Know that this is about more than domestic violence - this is about any actions in our community that seek to harm others. Don't be afraid to speak up. Don't be afraid to support the survivors. Don't be afraid to imagine - 1 week - 7 days - 168 hours - 10,080 minutes - 604,800 seconds - WITHOUT VIOLENCE.
And then...make it more.