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Raising awareness

October 1, 2010

Post & Mail file photo/Becky Hand A candlelight vigil will be held in memory of victims of domestic violence in Whitley County like the one pictured here, held for Debra Houser who died last November.

   An anonymous letter, signed only “A Post & Mail reader,” received earlier this year by Sherry Sausaman, Whitley County Domestic Violence Task Force (WCDVTF) director, commended Sausaman and the taskforce for their efforts to raise awareness of domestic violence in the county and the safeguards and helps available for the victims. But the letter also suggested they could go even further, addressing the issue of emotional abuse as well as physical. “We certainly recognize there is emotional abuse,” Sausaman said, stressing those victims should reach out to the taskforce for help as well. “(Domestic violence) victims say the emotional is worse than the physical (abuse),” Sausaman said. And the emotional doesn’t leave visible scars. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and our own Whitley County Domestic Violence Task Force is planning many events throughout the month to raise awareness. According to Sausaman, the state of Indiana recorded 55 fatalities due to domestic violence from June 2009 to June 2010. Whitley County had two, Debra Houser in Nov. of 2009 and Kaylin Doggendorf in March. Families of both these victims are planning to attend some of the events scheduled for this month. In Columbia City — 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at the courthouse gazebo a candlelight vigil and reading of a proclamation signed by Mayor Fleck will occur during a short program. In South Whitley — 6 p.m. Oct. 12 in front of the Dollar General Store on state Route 5, a balloon release will follow the program. Tonya Warner, town council member will attend. In Churubusco — 6 p.m. Oct. 19 at C & A Tool, flower petals will be sprinkled on the pool in front of the building and names of victims will be read. Viv Sade, town council member will attend. Ongoing events include life-size memorial boards picturing victims and silhouettes representing them placed around the county. Look for them at the library, the YMCA and at storefronts. “Chalk it up” involving chalk drawings by students to raise awareness is planned at some of the local schools. Pat Mossburg of the Salvation Army of Whitley County and Chynna Presley of the Fort Wayne YMCA plan to speak. In the Parkview Whitley Hospital lobby, individually-wrapped cookies will be available with information about who to call if you are a victim of violence. Safety cards and literature will also be on display. Members of the WCDVTF will be making presentations at their churches or posting information in their church bulletins as well this month. Anyone who is or knows someone they suspect of being a victim of domestic violence may contact the taskforce for help by calling Sherry Sausaman at 248-9817 or e-mailing her at Or call Mossburg at 248-1711 or the Lighthouse Homeless Shelter at 244-5266.

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