Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Vigil draws attention to domestic violence
The scars of domestic violence aren't just physical, speaker says.
YOUNGSTOWN Putting a stop to domestic violence today will help alleviate the suffering of future generations, speakers said at a Monday candlelight domestic violence awareness vigil in the Mahoning County Courthouse rotunda.
"This is a social issue that is so horrendous and does so much damage to every generation that passes," said Constance Collins of Youngstown, a social worker at the Sojourner House domestic violence shelter in Youngstown. "If you break the cycle, your children and your grandchildren have a chance at life," she added.
"If I had no one to go to, I'd have stayed [in an abusive relationship], and I know I would not be alive to talk about it today," Collins told more than 100 people at the noon-hour event. "I was held captive until I heard the message about domestic abuse, and I know in my heart of hearts I didn't have to take it anymore even if I didn't have a dollar to spend," Collins said.
The annual vigil serves as the kickoff for the October observance of domestic violence awareness month.
"The scars of domestic violence don't disappear when the physical wounds heal," said Francine Arroyo of North Jackson.
"Children who grow up in those abuse-ridden households are more likely to suffer depression, anxiety and drug addiction as well as the same abuse their mothers have experienced," she said. They're also more likely than other children to run away from home, engage in teen prostitution or attempt suicide, she added.
One-third of all American women suffer physical or sexual abuse at some time in their lives, said Arroyo, who said she was a victim of domestic violence for a short time in a past relationship more than 15 years ago. "On an average day, more than three women are murdered by men who claim to love them," she added.
Arroyo, a customer service and delivery supervisor at the Austintown post office, donated to Sojourner House a large poster of a domestic violence awareness stamp she displayed at the vigil. Proceeds from sales of that Stop Family Violence stamp help fund domestic violence awareness programs.