Marchers Vow To Help End Domestic Violence


TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- A little bit of rain didn't stop ralliers to march for a cause that affects one in three women - even in the Topeka community.

The March to End Domestic Violence was filled with positive words - exactly what victims need. Marches like the one Friday are held to let them know they do have a place to turn to.

Shoes stomped through puddles, the ink on many colorful signs smeared, purple umbrellas opened - supporters rallied through the rain for the YWCA's annual march against domestic violence.

The year's theme is just two words, "No More," but it drives the message home.

"We have a lot of people here that have come out in the pouring rain to send a message that domestic violence is not okay in our community," Laura Burton said. She is the public educator for the YWCA's Center for Safety and Empowerment. "We know we have a lot more people out there who believe the same thing."

Domestic violence isn't limited to one label. It comes in many different forms, and ralliers and advocates want the public to be aware of them. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, mental/emotional and physical.

"I think when we don't see the bruises sometimes we think that it's not domestic violence, so we need to be talking about all the forms and the impact it has," Director of Victims Services at the Kansas Department of Corrections Audrey Cress said.

She works with many domestic abuse-type cases on a daily basis and said that a third of those in the KDOC system have had a domestic abuse charge in their past.

"Domestic violence is something we don't talk about," she said. "IT's still a really secretive thing in our society. I think we're getting a lot better about talking about it."

People of all ages participated in the rainy march, all with their own reasons for being there, but also to unite their voices into one.

"I have children, and I don't want them to grow up with violence in the world, whether it be domestic or any violence," supporter Michele Burris said.

Burris has a teenage daughter and said she doesn't want her to be in an abusive relationship.

"If there's any relationship, whether its a male relationship or a female companion relationship, abuse is not acceptable - just get out."

Washburn University student Farai Harreld has seen some of her loved ones go through domestic violence. Those experiences led her to join S.T.A.N.D. at Washburn University, a group that advocates for non-violent dating.

"This happens to people all over the world. It's not a secret, it's not something you should be ashamed of," Harreld said. "It makes life difficult, but the human spirit is very strong and you have to have a really good support system. That's why the YWCA is an amazing facility. I hope that anyone experiencing this can use their services."

Deborah Rose brought her grandkids with her to the march.

"They actually want to come and I want to bring them because I want my grandsons to know that they should never touch a woman in violence. I want my granddaughter to know that no one is allowed to hurt her."

Deborah's grandson Joe Andrew Rose summed the day up best.

"People all across the world get hurt every day and I want to stop that."

The YWCA wants to let the public know they can help stop domestic violence in a flier they sent out to media:

"1. Stand up. When you see harassment, violence, or someone joking about abuse, say: "hey, that's not okay."

2. Stay informed. Explore articles about abuse at www.ywcatopeka.org, follow YWCA of Topeka on Facebook or @ywcatopeka on Twitter.

3. Talk to children and teens you love about healthy and unhealthy relationships. It's never too early.

4. Hold abusive partners responsible for their choice to use violence. Begin to ask "why does he abuse?" instead of "why does she stay?"

5. If you know a victim, instead of telling the person what to do, ask how you can help. Be supportive and offer YWCA contact information.

6. Be an advocate. Support local, state and national laws and candidates that help protect women and children from abuse.

7. Give your time as a volunteer for the YWCA. Call today and ask about opportunities.

8. Donate money or items to support survivors of violence as they heal from abuse. Find a current wish list at www.ywcatopeka.org.

9. Invite a speaker from the YWCA to your workplace, faith community, classroom or community organization.

10. If you or someone you know needs help, call the YWCA CSE or visit us at any of our three office locations:

225 SW 12th Street, Topeka - 785.354.7927
114 W 3rd Street, Alma - 785.765.3333
107 E 5th Street, Holton - 785.362.2222 "

The YWCA offers a 24-hour free helpline at 1-888-822-2983.


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