Community shines light on violent subject


Marnie, Angel, Melissa, Trish.

These are just four victims of domestic violence locals recognized Tuesday night.

The names, scrawled on paper flowers and placed in planters outside the Moffat County Courthouse, were set alongside about 50 other flowers, in honor of survivors of domestic violence or those who have died from the abuse.

A sobering vigil attended by about 80 people, including law enforcement officials and area leaders, attempted to honor all the faces behind the names and those who still suffer in silence.

"From the very start we are programmed to think domestic violence is OK,' said Rick Ridenour, board president of the Advocates-Support Crisis Services Center.

"We've all seen the image of the caveman dragging the woman back to the cave. That image hits a little closer to home for survivors of domestic abuse," he said. "We need to expand our thinking."

In its sixth year, the vigil helps residents recognize October as National Domestic Violence Awareness month, said local advocates.

As darkness set in Tuesday night, participants held lighted candles and listened to a variety of speakers and singers honor victims of abuse.

The Yampa Valley chapter of the Sweet Adelines sang inspirational tunes. Craig Mayor Dave DeRose urged citizens to set positive examples in the lives of children. Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton read a proclamation denouncing domestic violence.

Two women from the Survivors' Support Group read poems from the makeshift stage.

The support group is a free service offered by Advocates that encourages victims to join, regardless of individual circumstances.

"A lot of people say this is only place they feel safe, where they won't be judged," said Laney Gibbes, who works with the program. "People always think that (violence) has only happened to them. They are always so surprised that somebody has gone through the same thing."

The once weekly meetings are open to anyone, Gibbes said, even those who have, in turn, used violence.

Meetings offer a chance for victims to connect and relate. Information, safety planning and victims' options are frequently discussed, she added.

"You don't have to have left the abusive situation to be involved," she said. "This group is for anyone. It doesn't matter what stage you happen to be in."

According to longtime Advocates volunteer Taunne Hummel, it's important not to give up on victims of abuse and to keep educating others on its effects.

As a volunteer with the program for six years, she cited some tragic results of abuse.

"When a death occurs, it rips your heart out," Hummel said. "It's difficult to do this job but rewarding to see some of the survivors."

Both survivors and those who have died because of domestic violence were remembered Tuesday night. Local advocates hope that same diligence of the crowd will help spurn change as more people take a stand against domestic violence.

Change will require residents to become more aware of abuse not only through October but all year long, said local advocates.

"We have to take a stand against it," said Craig police officer Storm Fallon, who attended the event with her son.

Fallon handles cases of sexual abuse every day and in her eight-year career, the problem only seems to be getting worse.

"It's unbelievable," she said of the high rates of calls.

Yet she gauged most of the abuse slips under the radar.

"Most of it is unreported," Fallon said.

Attending the vigil is just one way to support victims of domestic violence.

"This is just a small part of it," she said.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or

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