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Focusing on domestic violence

Community to remember victims, survivors

Next Thursday, the Lawrence County Domestic Violence Task Force will be remembering those who have suffered at the hands of domestic violence.

The Second Annual Domestic Violence Awareness Program will also be a celebration of people who have survived domestic abuse. The event will be held at 6 p.m. at the Rotunda at Ohio University Southern and will commemorate October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

On Oct. 7, the LCDVTF will release 100 purple balloons into the sky. LCDVTF director, Elaine Payne, said the balloons are a symbol of letting go.

“(It represents) release for those who are still struggling with domestic violence,” she said.

She also said that the event is about reaching out to those who are still suffering.

After the balloon release, the gathering will move inside to hear special guest speaker Elsa Croucher.

Croucher and her husband, Jim, lost their daughter, Tina, who was shot by her abusive, ex-boyfriend. The Crouchers have since founded a non-profit organization to speak out against domestic violence.

The group, Citizens Against Domestic Violence, is responsible for House Bill 19, also known as Tina’s Bill, which would require school districts to adopt a dating violence policy and include dating violence education in their health education curriculums.

Payne said the public needs to be more aware about domestic violence and that the LCDVTF can help people struggling with abuse.

“We shelter them, we provide legal advocacy,” she said. “We refer them to resources based on their needs.”

Payne said that the domestic violence shelter helps women and men who are victims to get back on their feet and become self-sufficient. “We try to instill in their minds, ‘Yes they can,’” Payne said.

The shelter also helps victims to find permanent housing and employment.

For those who are not sure their abusive lives can be changed, Payne said, “You can do better for yourself. You’ve got to get a start somewhere.”

She also suggested finding someone to talk to. The shelter also offers a 24-hour hotline that can be reached at 740-532-7111.

Payne said that people sometime do not seek help because they believe their situation will improve.

“They think it’s going to get better,” she said. “But it usually doesn’t get better.”

Payne said that the shelter is always in need of donations.

“We appreciate any donation, large or small,” she said.

Donations of food, money or toiletries may be sent to the LCDVTF at P. O. Box 311, Ironton, OH 45638.

Payne also encourages victims of domestic violence to let someone know before it’s too late.

“Sometimes it gets worse,” she said. “Sometimes it ends up with a death.”

She also said as a reminder, “Love should not hurt.”