A candlelight vigil was held on Tuesday at the Harlan County Courthouse hosted by the Harlan County Domestic Violence Council. October is domestic violence awareness month. The lighting of the candles was to honor those who lost their lives to domestic violence and those who survived.
Keynote speaker for the event was Harlan District Court Judge Jeff Brock, who said it “was an honor to be a part of this event.”
“Every year I’ve been invited here to talk to you folks, sometimes there are more here than others,” said Brock. “One of the main reasons I’m here is because of awareness. I’d like to say that our victim advocate Sheryl Caudel does a tremendous job. She cares about the women and believe it or not she cares about the men also, because everybody is in the problem together no matter which end you are on. She wants to do the right thing and makes my job a little easier every Thursday.”
He added, domestic violence dating and sexual violence are costly and a wide-spread problem in the U.S. and in Kentucky — causing problems for not only victims, but for witnesses and by-standers to the violence as well.
“When there is violence in our homes, there is violence in our schools and violence in our community,” said Brock.
Listing eight facts about domestic violence — Brock said on average five women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the U.S. He said nearly one in three women in Kentucky report experiencing violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life.
“Women are much more likely than men to be victimized by a current or former intimate partner,” Brock said. “Women are 84 percent of spouse abuse victims and 86 percent victims of abuse at the hands of boyfriends or girlfriends. About three-fourths of the persons who commit domestic violence are males.
“Women, ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk of experiencing non-fatal intimate partner violence. There are 15.5 million children in the U.S. who live in families in which a partner committed violence at least once this past year. Seven million children live in families which severe partner violence occurred. Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the U.S. are a victim of physical or emotional abuse from a dating partner. A woman is more likely to be killed by a male partner or former partner than any other person. One third of violent felony offenders were charged with domestic violence in the past. In domestic violence homicides about one-third of the victims were killed as they attempted to leave the relationship or after the relationship has ended. About 73 percent of male abusers were abused as children.”
Also speaking at the event was Domestic Violence Counselor at Presbyterian Family Counseling in Pineville Jim Woodring, who said “we are all survivors. It’s all around us in one way or the other. It may be in our families or just people we know, but it’s around us. This is the time to work to end it. It takes commitment and recommitment. We commit ourselves to God our creator and we commit our hands. May we extend them for a healing touch to comfort sisters, brothers, youth and the elderly who live in fear.
“We commit our eyes and our ears so we may hear or see the signs of violence so all may have someone with them in their pain and confusion. We commit our heart and our tears, may the hurt and sorrows echo within us. We commit our own stories of violence so we may also be healed and embrace each other. We commit our anger and may we have compassion for justice. We commit all our skills that we may use as gifts to end violence. We commit our faith, our hope and our love.”
Harlan County Domestic Violence Victim Advocate Sheryl Caudel said in the past six years she has been working as the a domestic violence victim advocate she has seen “a lot of changes.”
“We have a new law that will take effect in January regarding domestic violence happening with dating and people that are living together that are not married,” said Caudel. “Another change I have seen in the past year is the work we have seen by Judge (Jeff) Brock. He has been the best thing to happen for domestic violence in this county. He understands it, he’s sympathetic and he seeks to protect the people.”
Refreshments and door prizes were given to those who attended the event.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or on Twitter @Nola_hde