clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Rallying against domestic violence

Two victims of spouse abuse related their stories Monday night as Utah County residents gathered to foster awareness of domestic violence.

The candlelight vigil, held in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities around the nation, was the first event of its kind in Utah County. For some of the 100 residents, mostly women, in attendance, the public forum was long overdue."It's something I've waited a long, long time for," said one Utah County woman who did not identify herself. "For the first time in my life, I have felt the kind of freedom I longed for."

The woman said she was not only a victim but also a convicted perpetrator of domestic violence. However, she was able to break out of the cycle of abuse and hopes to help others do the same.

"I'm just grateful today there's more knowledge, there's more education about domestic violence," she said. "It gives women hope, it gives children hope, it gives men hope. . . . My hope is they can learn they don't have to use any kind of violence."

Donna Callahan, who now works in substance abuse prevention for Utah County Human Services, said she also survived domestic violence, although it wasn't physical abuse.

"I was not beaten, I was not kicked, I was not hit," she said, "yet my situation was very common and very typical. The bruises were there - under the surface."

Callahan said victims of verbal and emotional abuse can suffer as much as victims of physical abuse do.

"It is just as real, it is just as frightening, it is just as debilitating as if we had been beaten," she said.

Callahan said she grew up in a home with an abusive father, and the pattern continued when she was married because she chose a spouse much like her own father. After two years, she was able to leave the marriage because of the support she received from friends.

"I have learned that many of these problems can be averted if we help one another, if we strengthen one another."

Provo Mayor George Stewart proclaimed October "Domestic Violence Awareness Month." In the proclamation, he noted that 14 Utahns die on average each year as a result of domestic violence.