LOGAN — Although October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, domestic violence is something that occurs daily throughout the country.

Domestic violence affects millions including men and women of every race, religion, culture and status. It’s more than just a black eye and punches — it’s yelling, humiliation, stalking, threats, controlling, and isolation. Or it could be something as minor as calling someone “stupid” so often they begin to believe it.

Domestic violence is everywhere, including in Pickaway County.

One of the biggest advocates in the area for domestic violence is Judy Seifert, Director, President/Founder of Stephy’s House, Women’s/Youth Crisis Center in Lancaster.

Seifert opened Stephy’s House on May 1, 2017, just five years after she lost her daughter to a vicious act of domestic violence. Since the death of her daughter, Seifert has been rallying and raising funds for Domestic Violence Awareness.

“Stephy’s House is not a shelter; we are a crisis center,” Seifert stated. “We connect our clients to the tools, contacts and information needed to escape abuse. Stephy’s House consists of all volunteers — no one is paid, not even me.

“We have a passion to bring public education awareness to this horrific crisis in America,” she added. “Every house has a story. At Stephy’s House we share Stephy’s story in an attempt to allow women to see clearly the similarities in their stories, so they can realize the real danger they are living in.”

One of the ways Seifert is making her voice heard is through fundraisers and events that she hosts. Her most recent venture is the Domestic Violence Awareness Winter Walk scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 8.

Seifert said hosting this Walk is important in order to make people more aware of domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is a senseless act of violence that leaves devastation in its wake,” she told The Circleville Herald. Parents without their children; children without their parents; families torn apart; communities pierced to their soul.

“State absorbing tremendous costs in broken lives, in financial hardship and its population crippled for generations,” she continued. “Our nation is weakened by all the violence — according to sciencedaily.com, exposure to domestic violence costs the US government $55 billion a year and exposure to domestic violence carries long-term consequences for both children and society.”

According to Seifert, the Walk will be held at the Hocking Hills Golf Club & Urban Grille, 14405 Country Club Lane in Logan, on Saturday, Feb. 8. Pre-registration isn’t necessary, but Seifert said it would be helpful if those wanting to walk would sign up prior to the event.

There’s also no fee involved, and participants will be walking all 18 holes of the golf course. Seifert is requesting everyone to wear purple for domestic violence. The event will include a brief presentation about domestic violence; fellowship following the Walk.

So far, there are approximately 40 signed up, but Seifert is hoping for a much larger number.

Seifert’s daughter, Stephanie, was murdered on Oct. 23, 2012, along with her male friend. They were savagely murdered at the hands of Stephanie’s ex-husband before he turned the gun on himself.

According to 911 records, Stephanie, who was 39 at the time, screamed and pleaded with her ex-husband for seven minutes before he pulled the trigger and killed her.

Moments later, the bodies of Stephanie and her friend, an off-duty Lancaster Police Officer, were found inside Stephanie’s home on Cleveland Avenue in Lancaster, as well as her ex-husband, after police officers described hearing three gunshots.

According to the National Domestic Violence data source, the risk of a woman being killed by an intimate partner significantly increases when the abuser has access to a gun and has made previous threats or assaults with a gun, threatens murder, is extremely jealous, or is physically violent with increasing severity and/or frequency.

The risk of homicide also is increased if the victim has recently separated from the offender, or the offender stalks the victim.

While alcohol, poverty, mental illness and other factors may play roles in domestic violence; there is no rational justification for a selfish act like taking someone else’s life or harming another.

Yes, the statistics are staggering, the danger is real and those who believe they are being abused should reach out for help immediately. Everyone has the right to feel safe in a relationship.

Domestic violence not only hurts the abused person, but also all family members.

Statistics show 72 percent of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94 percent of the victims of these murder-suicides are female. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.

For more information on Stephy’s House or the Domestic Violence Awareness Winter Hike, contact Judy Seifert at 740-823-2000 or jseifert@stephyshouse.org.

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