By Amie Sites
---- — Thirty-nine pairs of shoes sat under a canopy on a set of bleachers at the corner of Fourth and Market streets Wednesday afternoon. They stood for 39 lives lost to domestic violence in Indiana from July 2013 to June 2013.
The names of the women and men were read during a Wednesday vigil by Lynda Pense, a member of the local Domestic Violence Task Force and a worker with the violence shelter in Kokomo. The names were followed by the ringing of a bell in honor of each victim.
About 40 people attended the domestic violence awareness vigil sponsored by the Domestic Violence Task Force of Cass County, to honor and pay tribute to those who lost their lives to domestic violence.
It was the first vigil the task force has had, said Jill Rife, president of the Domestic Violence Task Force. Rife said they decided to have the vigil Wednesday because October is domestic violence awareness month.
"We have domestic violence here, it does go on," Rife said.
Mayor Ted Franklin proclaimed October as domestic violence awareness month for Logansport and asked citizens to put an end to domestic violence.
Representatives with Logansport Police Department, Cass County Sheriff's Department and Indiana State Police were also present.
Lieutenant Ray Bean with LPD, who's also a member of the domestic violence task force, talked about some of the changes in awareness of domestic violence in the last 25 years. He asked those who attended to continue to keep awareness alive and current.
"The programs are not without flaws, but they have come a long way," Dean said. "We will not let the deaths go unnoticed."
Cass County Sheriff Randy Pryor talked about the importance of law enforcement agencies working together.
"It's important we work together to reach the shared goal of stamping out domestic violence," Pryor said.
Captain Ed Shroder of the Indiana State Police also spoke at the vigil and applauded those in attendance for having the vigil and continuing to raise awareness.
"A lot of times the violence is happening behind closed doors," Shroder said. "We want to let people know there are people who will help get them out of the situation."
A survivor of domestic violence shared her experience at the vigil. She recalled the first half of her marriage as happy and blissful. Then the domestic violence began and continued for nine years, she said.
One day she put her plan in to action, contacted an attorney and got herself out of the situation.
"I knew nothing would be the same," the survivor said. "I had to get past the bitterness and heal myself. The biggest thing is I had to forgive him."
The hardest part was having her children ask what type of mood their dad would be in when he got home from work, she said.
"Why would I share this? For awareness and education," she said. "Everyone in society needs to be aware it is happening to people you know."
Pense, who read the names of the victims, reminded those in attendance that the job is to raise awareness and put a stop to domestic violence because each victim is someone's sister, niece, uncle, brother and cousin.
"Domestic violence can happen in any household," Rife said. "Race, income and religion doesn't matter. It happens everywhere."
Members of the Domestic Violence Task Force of Cass County can be reached at the task force's 24-hour hotline, 574-722-2119.
Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her: @PharosAES.
Need help? The Domestic Violence Task Force of Cass County has a 24-hour hotline at 574-722-2119.