Friday, October 24, 2014

Memorial stone, and campus-community efforts, rededicated to honor domestic violence victims

A rededication ceremony for a new memorial stone that recognizes local victims of domestic violence was recently held in the area between Bennett Hall and the Stevenson Center at Ohio University-Chillicothe.

Doug Hayburn, the owner of Southern Ohio Monument Company in Chillicothe, donated the memorial stone, which continues the memory of area individuals whose lives have been cut short by domestic violence. The new stone, made of jet black granite, includes the names of 19 Ross County residents who have lost their lives to domestic violence since 1986. It replaces the former memorial stone, which included the names of a dozen victims who died between 1986 and 1996.

Members of the campus and local community participated in the rededication event.

Following introductory remarks, OU-C student Traci Hall opened the program by reading the poem “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou. Shea Williams closed with “Hope is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson.

A proclamation was issued on behalf of Chillicothe Mayor Jack Everson. As the proclamation read, “Too many area individuals have had their lives shattered, and some have even lost their lives to this heinous crime. However, the efforts of individuals and groups in this region to combat domestic violence are also unceasing. They are determined that those who have suffered, and even died, at the hands of their abusers will not be forgotten … Therefore, today we are rededicating both a memorial stone as well as the efforts to end this senseless violence through both education and action.”

“Our mission is to ensure that another name is not added to this memorial stone,” said Mandy Sullivan-Dyke, executive director of the Ross County Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Domestic violence is non-discriminatory. It impacts all segments of society.”

Sullivan-Dyke spoke of the impact of domestic violence and those who feel its brunt.

“The impact is different for each family and each victim,” she said. “Since the abuser is often the bread-winner in the family, often the victims leave the situation with only the clothes on their backs. One of our goals is to get children out of that environment and break the cycle of violence.”

The Ross County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the OU-C FOCUS Program are sponsors of the memorial stone. The OU-C FOCUS program, which ended in the 1990s, created the original stone.

“We need to help educate young boys and girls that domestic violence is not acceptable. This stone helps it to become more visible about this family and community curse,” said Diane Diekroger, a former FOCUS director.

“I am proud to be part of a community that stands in the gap to make a difference,” OU-C Associate Dean Brenda Phillips said. “I want to thank our faculty and staff members for the work they do to make a difference in the community.”

There was also a silent auction to raise funds for the Ross County Coalition against Domestic Violence. The events align with October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The memorial stone was moved from its previous location, closer to Stevenson Center, to its current, more prominent location near the walkway leading to the building, after OU-C faculty members noticed the stone but were unaware of its origin. Research determined it was created by the OU-C FOCUS Program, which began the current effort. A similar ceremony was held in October 2013 to dedicate the new location, with plans for this new stone and the additional names.

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