Peace House encourages the public to ‘Be the Light’
One in three Utah women experience abuse in their lifetimes
Peace House‘s annual Be the Light March on Main, which is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 8, to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month, is more crucial than ever, said Erika Carlson, Peace House’s director of marketing and communications.
“A recent survey estimated that 33.6% of Utah women will experience some form of sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in her lifetime,” she said. “That’s one of three Utah women.”
In addition, Utah State University’s Utah Women & Leadership Project reported last March that 41.6% of Utah women will experience psychological aggression, and 36.4% will experience coercive control.
The UWLP also reported data regarding female and male domestic violence victims, which was collected from 2017 to 2021 by local law enforcement agencies that participate in the National Incident Reporting System, saw a 15.7% increase of incidents.
“With the march, we’re hoping to spread awareness of folks who have lost their lives to domestic violence and those who have survived domestic violent situations,” Carlson said. “It’s a way to open the conversation and let people, friends and families know that we’re here for support, and that we can have conversations about these topics.”
The afternoon will begin with a program at 3 p.m. on the Town Lift Plaza, 825 Main St., Carlson said.
“First up will be Peace House Executive Director Kendra Wyckoff who will give introductions and a little bit of our organization’s background,” she said.
Peace House was founded in 1992, two years after Parkite Nadalee Noble was shot to death by her estranged husband, Donald Noble, and it has continued its work to end family violence and abuse through education, outreach, support services and safe housing.
“Kendra will also talk about some of these programs and things we’re doing to help stop domestic violence,” Carlson said.
The next speakers on the schedule are Park City Mayor Nann Worel and Heber City resident Melcine Pollock, a domestic violence survivor.
“Melcine is the sister of domestic homicide victim Julie Ann Burns,” Carlson said.
Burns, a mother of two, was allegedly killed in her Heber City home by her boyfriend, Michael Asman, on July 13, 2022. And Asman, who had a history of abusing Burns, was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head nearly a month later in Oregon, according to police reports.
“After they speak, we’ll have closing remarks by Peace House Associate Director Katherine Aguilera,” Carlson said. “Throughout the program, we’ll have live music performed by Heather Richey, and we’ll observe a moment of silence for all those who have lost their lives to domestic violence as well.”
After the program, the crowd will walk to the top of Main Street, and walk back down to the plaza for closing remarks, Carlson said.
“There is an interactive component of the walk as we go up and down the street,” she said. “Participants will see 193 pairs of shoes, which represent the individuals — women, children and men — who have received services and stayed at Peace House in the past fiscal year. We also have pets that have also stayed with us.”
The walk is fully accessible, and Peace House staff and volunteers will be happy to accommodate anyone who participates in the walk, Carlson said.
“We plan to have an American Sign Language interpreter present, and we’ll have someone who will translate everything into Spanish,” she said.
The walk, in addition to raising awareness about domestic violence, serves as a fundraiser for Peace House programming. The nonprofit has set a goal of $10,000, and as of Tuesday morning, it has raised 6,835.
“We have sponsorship opportunities, and that’s the best way to help with fundraising,” Carlson said.
“We also have sponsorships from individuals — Sandra More and Marcie Davis,” she said.
Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor can visit peacehouse.org/event/dvam2023.
“We also have a way to interact through peer-to-peer fundraising,” Carlson said. “People can go on to our website, and click on the register or sponsorship link. This is great for people, especially for those who want to fundraise, but can’t be at the event.”
Still, registration isn’t required to attend the event, Carlson said.
“If folks want to register, we would love it if they did by Friday, Oct. 6,” she said. “But anyone can just show up to show their support.”
Hosting the annual Be the Light March is an important way to raise awareness about domestic violence, Carlson said.
“From a marketing standpoint domestic violence is a difficult topic to share, but it’s important to spread awareness, and get help to those who need it,” she said. “So I love seeing people coming together to have conversations and open up about situations where they’ve either helped someone or have experienced a domestic-violence or interpersonal violent situations themselves.”
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