CIRCLEVILLE — A few dozen people took to the streets of Circleville to call for an end to domestic violence, ending their march at the base of the Pickaway County Courthouse.
Haven House of Pickaway County is a domestic violence and homeless shelter. They say their mission is to strive to empower survivors of domestic violence by providing advocacy, shelter, support and safety planning. One of its yearly initiatives, now in its 21st year, is the Silent Victim’s March, which was held Monday morning.
Following the march, representatives from Haven House, public officials, and members of law enforcement each spoke on the subject and addressed the crowd that had gathered during the wet Monday morning ceremony.
Lisa Johnson, executive director for Haven House, spoke about domestic violence and its impact on the community, calling the ceremony and march a way to celebrate those that have survived domestic violence, recognize the need for services and assistance to victims and to mourn those that have died to a domestic violence situation.
“Domestic violence takes a toll on the victims, the children of the victims and the community,” Johnson said. “Domestic violence does not discriminate, it does not care if you are rich or poor, black or white, what religion you belong to or where you live. It affects each and every one of us.”
Johnson, stated that October was Domestic Violence Awareness month, with the event being held on the first Monday to bring awareness to the community.
“Many of us today have been affected by domestic violence, either as a victim, or as a child, a mother, a father, a sister or a friend of lives that have been subject to this crime,” Johnson said.
Taking to the podium, Pickaway County Commissioner Harold “Champ” Henson and Circleville Mayor Don McIlroy presented Johnson and Haven House with proclamations.
“In a perfect world we would not be here today,” Henson said. “As we all know that is not reality and we are here. I appreciate Lisa, the people around her and the community that confronts this problem in an extremely open and honest way. Problems like this are not solved if you don’t tear away the veneer and get right to the problem and address it the best possible way.”
McIlroy spoke primarily about children and how growing up in those situations can affect them.
“The effects of growing up in the midst of domestic violence can be devastating for children,” he said. “Children of battered women are very likely to be battered themselves. They live in constant fear and are often torn physically and emotionally between their adult caretakers.
“Children are our future — let’s give them the chance to understand that love is truly love and can be given without violence,” McIlroy added.
Judy Wolford, Pickaway County Prosecutor, said there hasn’t been a domestic violence death in Pickaway County in the last year but there have been 81 deaths in domestic violence related cases across the state from July 1, 2018 to June 30 of this year.
Wolford spoke about a man who was convicted of killing his wife in a domestic violence situation and how the parole board reached out to her for her thoughts on his potential release.
“He killed his wife, stuffed a plastic bag in mouth and put duct tape over her mouth and left her for her 13-year-old daughter to find two days later,” Wolford said. “He had taken off and we were able to track him down and prosecute him. It’s no surprise that I told the parole board that he should remain in jail because I think that’s the best place for him.”
Pickaway County Sheriff Robert Radcliff and Sgt. Matthew Hafey with the Circleville Police Department both spoke on domestic violence from the perspective of law enforcement. Hafey is a board member at Haven House and Radcliff has previously served on the board.
Radcliff said when he started in law enforcement in 1980, there was no domestic violence training for officers or deputies.
“Shortly after I started, there was a requirement for every officer and we’ve since continued and expanded that training,” Radcliff commented. “Law enforcement has looked at domestic violence as a community issue and a serious issue. It’s something we can’t fix alone. We’re the first line and we see firsthand how domestic violence affects all of our victims from young to old.”
Radcliff, echoing with others said he looks forward to the day when they don’t need to have the shelter and he’s confident that the community will get there.
“This community has strong support for our victims,” he added. “When you look at what’s been achieved since Haven House has been around, that’s been a lot of hard work by a lot of people. We’re very fortunate to have a staff that does so much.”
Johnson concluded the event by wishing peace to the victims of domestic violence and power to those currently going through that situation.
“In the past 21 years as we have held our march, families of victims who have lost their lives to an abuser attend and today is no different,” Johnson stated. “To those family members I wish you peace and sweet memories. To those victims who are currently being abused, I pray for you to have the power and confidence you need to realize that there are opportunities to free you from abuse and make you a survivor and for those of you who have lived under the power and control of a mate and have left we celebrate your freedom and success.”