CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) – A dark issue, often happening behind closed doors, was brought to the streets of Circleville Monday.
In observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Haven House of Pickaway County, Inc. hosted an annual Silent Victims March.
Haven House staff, domestic violence survivors and their supporters marched from Community United Methodist Church to the Pickaway County Courthouse with purple balloons and signs honoring loved ones who suffered abuse.
Survivor Penny Hyatt recalled the feelings of hopelessness at the hands of an abuser as “Lost and scared and don’t think there’s another way out…”
Michelle Kessler echoed the sentiment. She said she was forced to leave a domestic violence situation when her ex-boyfriend was using drugs.
“He got violent, he got aggressive and my kids’ lives were more important. So I did what I had to do to get out of the house,” she explained.
Hyatt and Kessler joined other Haven House residents in carrying a sign honoring their late friend Jessica Lute. The young mother died by suicide earlier in the year after suffering years of domestic violence.
“She gave up too soon,” Kessler said.
Haven House executive director Lisa Johnson said Lute’s story is not uncommon.
“If we don’t take care of those who come to us… they have no choice but to stay in abuse. Their children see it and then another generation becomes abusers or becomes victims. And we want to change that,” Johnson said.
The women’s shelter currently offers 24 beds is often near capacity.
Johnson explained, “Whether you’re poor, whether you’re rich, whether you’re religious, whether you’re not, (domestic violence) does not discriminate.”
Monday’s ceremony ended with the singing of Ave Maria and a balloon release, symbolizing freedom from oppression.
Haven House’s ultimate goal is to lift up victims enough to find permanent, sustainable housing and jobs.
You can read more about Haven House and its mission
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