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Abuse won’t be tolerated

Message from annual community event

 

The purple and white balloons floated up to the early evening sky at the courtyard of Ohio University Southern as a symbol that the community will not tolerate domestic violence.

The balloon release was the start of the Fourth Annual Domestic Violence Awareness Program at the Ironton campus Thursday.

“This is so people caught in domestic violence can realize love shouldn’t hurt,” Elaine Payne, director of the Lawrence County Domestic Violence Task Force, told the audience.

The task force is the coordinating body for the county for the shelter, there for anyone wanting to break free from living a life of abuse, Payne said. The shelter provides sanctuary, crisis intervention and referrals to other county agencies to get the abused into a productive, healthy life again.

Keynote speaker Tonia Lake of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network urged the county to view domestic violence as a community issue, not just a situation affecting individuals.

“This room should be filled with people saying ‘We will not allow this to happen,’ “ she said. “We as a community need to recognize we have these people in our midst.”

Abusers are often those who do not seem the type and are able to hide their patterns of abusive actions, Lake said.

“People who are abusive are very charming,” she said. “They can be pillars of the community. Nobody gets punched in the face on the first date.”

Lake urged the county to develop a coordinated community response for ending domestic violence by getting police, business leaders, churches, schools and universities involved in a campaign of zero tolerance.

“We want to send a clear strong message that before you think about putting your hand on someone, you will be held accountable,” Lake said.