Peace House to host domestic violence awareness vigil
Speakers include police chief, Peace House director, local teens
October 16, 2017
At first, Adam Gardner, a member of Planned Parenthood Utah's Teen Council, felt a little misplaced when he found out he would be speaking at an event recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Now, though, the Park City High School junior says he wants to use his perspective to bring attention to the intersections of dating violence, sexual assault and domestic violence, which still rear their ugly heads in the lives of youth and teenagers. He finds himself in a unique position as a peer educator.
"Domestic violence isn't just some isolated incident, it's responsible for a lot of other problems and the other problems that are responsible for it are very numerous and complex," Gardner said.
The Peace House, a Park City nonprofit dedicated to helping survivors of domestic violence, is scheduled to hold a candlelight vigil at the Park City Community Church on Oct. 17. The vigil will be in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and will honor both survivors of domestic violence and those who have lost their lives to it. Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter and Peace House Executive Director Kendra Wyckoff are set to speak at the event, as well as Gardner and fellow PCHS students Ren Brian and Adam Herbst. The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition is also sponsoring the vigil.
The vigil will also include a display of The Clothesline Project, a collection of T-shirts hung on a clothesline that have been drawn on by domestic violence survivors and people who wish to honor victims.
Leisa Mukdai, prevention and awareness coordinator for the Peace House, said Park City holds to state domestic violence averages. The state of Utah estimates one in three women experience domestic abuse or intimate partner violence at some point in their lives.
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In addition, the UDVC reports domestic violence has killed 28 Utahns of all genders and ages this year.
Mukdai said the Teen Council's presence as peer educators is important for stopping domestic violence where it often starts: in the first years of someone's life.
"A lot of perpetrators (of domestic violence) were abused as children and had domestic violence relationships in their household, and there was never any intervention," she said. "It became their normal for how to conduct a relationship."
Gardner said he hopes that events like the vigil will shine more light on the issue of domestic violence.
"It really does a lot to deconstruct the idea that domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault is normalized," he said. "I think it's really important to stand up and say, 'no, that's not normal.'"
The candlelight vigil is scheduled to be held at the Park City Community Church at 4501 N. S.R. 224, Park City, UT 84098 from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17. More information on The Peace House can be found at http://www.peacehouse.org. The shelter maintains a 24-hour help line at (800) 647-9161.