img_4457CADIZ – With domestic violence cases not going away anytime soon, the Tri-County Help Center (TCHC) held a candlelight vigil in front of the Harrison County courthouse under a Tuesday evening chilly sky.

Candles were lit and victim’s names were read in a solemn moment where not enough public presence was there to take it all in.

Executive Director for TCHC, Cathy Campbell was on hand as well as Harrison County Court Advocate, Kathryn Arnold who also helped organize the event. Speakers on hand were two judges who serve the county and see some of the domestic violence cases come across their bench in Juvenile Judge, Matthew Puskarich and Common Pleas Judge, T. Shawn Hervey.

First to speak was Judge Hervey who called domestic violence “one of the more serious problems we face as a society.” He explained how imperative it was for victims to seek help and to eventually escape from an abusive situation.

“…It’s a cycle of violence and if we don’t treat the underlying thought process then it’s likely not only to replicate in that particular relationship but it’s going to be generational,” Hervey stated to the crowd reminding them that the ones coming up in age would continue passing on that mindset of violence.

He acknowledged the difficulty in victims speaking out because of the length of time being victimized. He added that the number of criminal protection orders being filed, which he said outnumber the criminal filings, surprised him.

“But in the last two years that has been the case,” Hervey said. He also noted the worst case of domestic violence of his time regarding the shotgun shooting of Connie Culp where she became the first full, face transplant after a failed murder-suicide attempt.

He recalled that even after years of domestic abuse and “so egregious” that she still made a plea for mercy at her husband’s sentencing.

candlelight-puskarich-1Judge Puskarich spoke of how certain kinds of behavior has become acceptable when witnessing abuse at a young age and children, as they grow older, learn that it’s “okay” to hit their boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives. He explained how they will “wrongly view” that behavior as acceptable “and again, an incorrect view of the world, an incorrect view for children to learn from a parent.”

Puskarich explained that people involved in abuse does not affect just them but many people that surround them in their life and how they are teaching violence, especially to their children. He also emphasized something that was very poignant and which is experienced in many abusive relationships.

“You’re teaching saying sorry isn’t really sorry because it happens again and again and again and that you’re breaking your word that it wasn’t supposed to happen, again,” Puskarich explained.

Puskarich said that the pain may go away for a child when absorbing abuse but guilt, helplessness and trauma does not. He again emphasized that the abuse does not only affect “you” but the ones around you who witness the abuse.

“So don’t wait,” he stressed, “if you can’t do it for yourself do it for the love of your children. Get out. Get out now. Go and be safe. Things will get better when you make that choice to break that cycle of abuse for you, for your children.”

Campbell opened up by stating that they wished to mourn the loss of life as the result of domestic violence, as well as the survivors “who have gotten free.”

candlelight-campbell-2“Never in the history of Tri-County Help Center have victim’s services in such demand,” Campbell announced. Though she said cases have not necessarily increased in volume but that the public is become “more informed” regarding help and resources out there for seeking help.

“You and others are taking a stand and your letting victims know that there are places to go to be safe,” Campbell explained. “You’re helping them get into our offices. You’re supporting them as they start their new lives and you’re recognizing that leaving is never easy.”

Paula Planey read a very moving poem titled: “I got flowers today.” It was moving and sad where the voice received flowers without it being her birthday. It wasn’t their anniversary either but she continued to receive flowers now and then after abuse occurred. But what made it particularly jarring was that she also received flowers for her funeral. The voice expressed how afraid of his she was and how she was afraid to leave.

“I got flowers today, it was a very special day, it was the day of my funeral.”

Campbell agreed with what Puskarich spoke of and that was to begin early in one’s life towards education on what abuse is and what it looks like. She said she does not see much of a common denominator among abusers but the need for control does stand out. She did call it a “hard question” because there is not necessarily something obvious involved, such as alcoholism. She did emphasize that people need to stop blaming the victim as is often heard.

“That has to end,” She said.