More than 30 people came out to show their support for victims and take a stand against violence. Darlene Thomas, executive director of the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program, served as keynote speaker for the event.
"What is Take Back the Night?" Thomas asked rally attendants. "It's an idea, a belief, a vision that every woman should be free of violence and sexual assault."
Thomas spoke about the shame and suffering that accompany domestic violence, and urged community members to support victims in any way they can.
"I believe that survivors are amazing. They are amazing even in their messiness, because victimization is messy," Thomas said. "Victimization does not discriminate, and no one is immune."
She also noted the importance of talking about violence and not placing blame on the victims.
Here in Clark County, the Domestic Violence Council and Victims' Advocate Shea Calvert have worked tirelessly to help victims and take away the stigma that often accompanies abuse.
"Clark County has a very active council, law enforcement and judges that are committed to making sure people know it's not OK," Thomas said. "People feel comfortable coming forward because there is such a supportive community."
Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham gave the closing remarks and also applauded the efforts of the Domestic Violence Council.
"We have a lot of warriors working for us in Clark County," Branham said.
Calvert, who was instrumental in organizing the rally, is certainly one of those warriors. For Calvert, helping victims means providing education for the public, both about the services offered by the Domestic Violence Council and about domestic violence in general.
"A lot of people are in denial about domestic violence. There are a lot of people that don't believe in domestic violence â?¦. People don't understand that it's not just physical violence, but it's also verbal abuse and threats," Calvert said. That's something she would like to see change in the future and is hopeful that her presence in the community will make a difference.
"My goal is to be known in the community, that I'm out here and I can help," she said.
Thomas believes that advocates like Calvert are making a difference, noting that the percentage of women who will become victims has dropped from one in three to one in four.
"We need to speak out and engage in a dialogue â?¦ and open the doorway to reduce the numbers," Thomas said. "Keeping women safe is the ultimate goal."
For more information on domestic violence and the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program, visit www.beyondtheviolence.org. There is also a 24-hour crisis hotline that can be reached by calling 1-800-544-2022.
Contact Rachel Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org.