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Published October 17, 2009, 06:12 PM

Raising Awareness For Domestic Violence

More than four thousand new victims of domestic violence sought help from crisis intervention centers in North Dakota last year.

By: Christine Boggy, WDAZ

More than four thousand new victims of domestic violence sought help from crisis intervention centers in North Dakota last year.

Today The Domestic Violence and Abuse Center held a ladies luncheon in Langdon to raise awareness of the commonly unreported...but serious problem.

Two speakers at the luncheon will be referred to as John and Mary, as they wish to remain anonymous because of the threat they still feel from their abusers.

Boggy: It's an often overlooked and under reported problem, but one in four women will be affected by a form of domestic violence in their lifetime.

Kathy Downs: People still feel that it's a private matter; we feel as advocates that it's everybody’s business because it has a ripple effect.

Boggy: Kathy Downs says domestic violence is something that can and needs to be stopped but many people don't know they are in an abusive relationship until it's too late. That's why they're holding this luncheon today.

Mary: I didn't know it was abuse, I had absolutely no idea.

Boggy: Mary wants to remain anonymous because she still feels threatened by her abuser. She met him when she was only seventeen and was under the impression that what she was experiencing was normal. It wasn't till years later she found out it wasn't.

Mary: By the time I had gotten so ingrained in it, in the beginning I was gonna change him and he was gonna stop but then as children came and as more isolation came, then it escalated to the point of fear of death toward the end.

Boggy: Lucky for her, she was able to get help, but not everyone does, and many can only watch as they see loved ones take the abuse.

John: I sat and witnessed him abuse my mom, along with my sister.

Boggy: Having to deal with that at such a young age could have destroyed John, but instead he learned from his father's actions and vowed to never repeat them.

John: I chose not to, I think that's more of an excuse than an answer.

Boggy: John's mother stayed with his father till the day she died. Although she was not killed by domestic violence, John believes the stressful life she led because of the abuse contributed to her death.

John: I did feel helpless and I felt that here was nowhere I could go for help.

Boggy: All of these shirts are part of the clothesline project of North Dakota. Each one is color coded and represents a woman or child’s experience with domestic violence.

Kathy Downs: The white ones represent someone who has died, the red ones represent children who have witnessed domestic violence, the yellow or beige are women who themselves have been battered, and the green, blue ones are incest survivors and the orange and pink those represent someone who's been raped or sexually assaulted.

Boggy: The purpose of these shirts is to give people a visual of domestic violence instances and help them realize this is a real issue that not everyone comes away from alive.

Mary: Take the steps cause there is help our there and you can live. Am I afraid that someday you know? Yeah sure you're always gonna live in fear, but I got to the point where, like I said, what can you possibly do to me that you haven't already done. I just didn't want to live like that and didn't want my kids to be like that anymore.

Today's luncheon focused on women and children...but domestic abuse does affect men as well.

All proceeds from today's luncheon will go to the Domestic Violence and Abuse Center of Walsh, Pembina, and Cavalier counties.

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