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Domestic violence walk, rally

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@chronicle-tribune.com

The Family Service Association (FSA) of Howard County is preparing for the 15th annual Angel Walk and rally, both to raise funds for the domestic violence shelter and awareness for domestic violence and sexual assault.

Director of the domestic violence program with FSA Lindsey Davison said they put the event together as a collaboration with Indiana University Kokomo. With the "Me Too" movement circulating the globe last year, the walk and rally took a bit of a shift, she said.

Heidi Wright, a FSA sexual assault advocate spoke at last year’s event and even though she has her own story, said she focused more on the statistics and on all of the individuals that have experienced sexual assault and/or domestic violence.

“I would venture to say that every woman has experienced sexual harassment at some level. So I wanted to speak about that and encourage everyone there to say ‘no more,’” Wright said. “Because it’s more important to have the community feel like this isn’t just that person up there, it’s me too and if you feel connected to something you’re going to work to do something about it.”

Davison said for this year’s walk and rally, they are going to share three digital stories. One will be a student referencing dating violence, another will be an individual survivor for domestic violence and the third will be a compilation of members from the community saying “we stand with you and we believe you,” she said.

Wright said there will be representation from people in positions of power from Peru and Kokomo featured in the third video.

“I think that’s really empowering for people to see someone from authority and power saying ‘I believe you, I stand with you,’” Wright said. “It makes it easier for people who feel marginalized by this to come forward and say ‘yeah that happened to me.’ And then we offer resources to help them.”

Wright also noted that it’s not only women who experience these acts of violence or assault, either.

Tracy Martino, executive director of FSA said over the past 14 years they’ve been able to raise $200,000 from this fundraiser for the domestic violence shelter. It takes $868,000 a year to run the shelter, she said, and this year’s goal is to raise $20,000.

Though the event is a fundraiser, Martino said it's also an event that makes people feel safe to talk about what they’ve experienced. Through talking about it, they’re able to heal from it as well, she said, which can be empowering.

The rally will begin at 5:30 p.m. on April 16 in the IUK Alumni Hall. The one-mile walk will begin at 6 p.m. and refreshments will be available afterward.

Davison said it’s not too late to form a team, individuals can collect money and turn it in on the day of the event at IUK. Martino said they encourage anyone to come and be supportive of others.

For more information, call Martino at 765-457-9313 or email her at martinot@fsahc.org.