The Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Center is hoping to raise awareness during October to prevent cases of violence in Marion County. Several candlelight vigils will be held throughout the county.
“We are hoping to bring awareness to domestic violence happening in the community and let people who may have been or are victims we are there for them,” said Teresa Loffer, Marion County victim advocate.
Two vigils will be held, one at 5:20 p.m. Oct. 7 at Marion Central Park gazebo, the second at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Scout House in Hillsboro.
“We want people to be aware so we can all work together to address this problem in the county,” Loffer said.
Last year Marion County had 48 reported cases of domestic abuse and 29 arrests. The city of Marion had 12 reported cases in 2012.
“For every one case reported, there’s 10 more that aren’t,” Loffer said. “It’s hard for people to report because the abuser is usually someone they love. They need to know there are people out there who can get them the help they need.”
According to center director Candace Anderson, rural communities can be hit harder by domestic violence because of their isolation. She hopes to educate people on how to recognize cases of domestic abuse, and what steps to take to prevent it. Anderson says most victims and abusers are between ages 18 and 35.
“Domestic abuse is everywhere,” she said. “Everyone knows someone who is affected and needs help. Sometimes it is hard to do. Victims do not want their abuser to know they are getting help because it can cause greater violence. I try to encourage people to reach out to us in a safe and discreet manner, so we can offer the assistance they need to get them out of the bad situation.”
On Oct. 17, the center will have a law-enforcement training session for all county departments in Hillsboro.
Marion County Sherriff Robert Craft said he sees domestic violence cases more than he would like to, but does not believe domestic violence to be a resounding problem throughout the county.
“I can’t say it’s a problem in the county, more than other things but it does occur, but not daily,” he said. “I wish it didn’t happen, but it does.”
Craft said officers are required to take certain steps when dealing with domestic violence cases, and any case involving battery will also end with an arrest.
People can learn more about domestic violence and receive training from the center.
“We would like to see anyone who has a position where they deal with the public to have training on how to spot domestic violence that may be happening at home,” Loffer said. “This is the most important way for us to combat the problem, because so much goes unreported.”
A 24-hour hotline, (620) 663-2522, is available to victims or anyone else who suspects domestic violence happening to a friend or family member.