The often difficult topic of violence in the home was at the forefront of a special ceremony conducted on the courthouse lawn Sunday afternoon.
Called “Their Empty Shoes,” the program attempted to shine a light on the many Hoosier lives lost to domestic violence in the last 12 months.
The program drew a small crowd who chose to brave a cold, blustery day in order to remember the slain individuals mentioned during the course of the event, each of whom was represented by a pair of empty shoes.
The victims were men, women and children. They came from different economic, social, racial, ethnic and educational backgrounds. They ranged in age from seven months to 57 years. The one common thread linking all was an act of violence that ended in their untimely deaths.
Those acts were mentioned in graphic detail as each name was read. Many of those lost in the last year were the victims of gun violence, while others were beaten, stabbed, raped and even set on fire. As the names were read by Al Moore, Carole Burr and Charlie Taylor, students from the Greensburg Community High School National Honor Society retrieved a pair of shoes and placed them on a table covered in a black tarp. A moment of silence for the victims followed.
Diane Moore began the program by offering some surprising statistics.
She said one in four women will encounter domestic violence at some point in their lives. Domestic violence is also the number one cause of physical injury in women between the ages of 15 and 44, she said.
Moore mentioned how victims often cannot bring themselves to leave their abusers out of the fear of being killed for trying to do so.
“Domestic violence is best defined as when one person uses a pattern of behaviors to control another person,” Moore said. “It’s all about power and control.”
The New Directions director told the crowd that abusers will threaten harm to themselves or a couple’s children in order to keep their victims under their control. Threatening the life of the abuse victim is another common tactic used to instill enough fear in a person that he or she will choose to stay in the destructive relationship.
To that end, a pair of poems were read Sunday, each from the perspective of a female victim.
“Remember My Name,” a poem by Kath, was read by Ashley Clifford. The poem demonstrates a relationship built on fear and intimidation, one in which a male abuser verbally berates the woman in the story. This soon escalates into physical violence, until the narrator describes how her abuser had taken away “her very soul.” Similarly, “Remember My Name” by Kimberly Collins, serves as an epitaph for another woman unable to escape her abuser.
And though there’s no bringing back those lost in the past to violence in the home, Sunday’s event organizers believe the acts that led to the loss of 61 different Hoosier lives can be prevented.
Moore asked those in attendance to reach out to those who may be experiencing any form of domestic violence.
“Don’t judge them,” Moore said. “Tell them you care about them and that they deserve respect.”
Those in Decatur County seeking help may contact New Directions at 812-662-8822.
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056