October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.
It’s a month to remember all the lives lost to domestic violence and those who are still living through it.
Monday night Harbor House’s Calumet county program honored those lives with their annual domestic violence awareness vigil.
Every Harbor House vigil has included silent witnesses, they’re wooden silhouettes representing Calumet county residents that have been killed due to domestic violence and this year there was one more to add.
Seven figures stand with names of women who were not able to get help in time.
January 2018 Sara Schmidt of Calumet county was killed by her husband after a long, abusive relationship.
Her friends say it took her a long time to reach out for help.
“Things accelerated very quickly and very violently and that’s when she knew things were going a little too far,” says Melanie Jayjack, Sara’s friend. “She came to us for help, she sought out a lawyer to get a divorce, she went to the police station to report him and have him arrested. So she did eventually do the right thing and stand up for herself.”
But it was perhaps too late.
“I still think even though we have seven silent witnesses here tonight because seven people that we know of in Calumet county have been killed by domestic violence, people still say not in my backyard,” says Harbor House coordinator Melissa Giebel. “We had our just recent one in January and they still say it’s not happening. They don’t think it’s a problem.”
Sara’s friends were apprehensive about sharing her story tonight.
But they wanted those suffering through violent situations to know your friends want to help.
“You can talk to your friends,” says friend of Sara’s Melinda Clausen. “Your friends are going to be happier if you talk to them than if you wind up in the same situation that Sara did.”
We are all part of the solution to domestic violence.
Harbor House’s hashtag one thing campaign says it all.
“Whether it be just even asking someone how they’re doing or believing a survivor or posting something on your social media page, one voice can make a difference,” says Giebel.
The Centers for Disease Control analyzed the murders of women in 18 states from 2003 to 2014.
They found a little more than 10,000 deaths.
Of those, 55 percent were killed by an intimate partner.