They walked for a Shelby Township woman killed by her husband. A Detroit woman killed by her boyfriend. For a Grand Rapids police officer shot while breaking up an argument that turned violent. About 100 people marched in the streets of Detroit on Saturday, calling for an end to domestic violence. Some carried poster board silhouettes bearing the names and stories of victims.
The goal, said organizers, was to remind Detroit that the epidemic of violence, especially against women, needs to be stopped. In 2009, there were 68,113 reported cases of domestic violence in Detroit, said Jaycee Memminger, a survivor of abuse and coordinator of the women's Flip the Script turnaround program at Goodwill Industries in Detroit. She said those are just the ones police know about."We know that most women don't call to report that it's going on in their houses," said Memminger.
The walk, led by Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. during October's national Domestic Violence Awareness Month, went from New Center to Wayne State University and back."We don't want young people to think this is normal behavior," Godbee said. "Young people see that, and it becomes normal to them."
Among the marchers were Marquise Alston, 21, and Shantonae Ellis, 18. The Detroiters said they sometimes see family violence in their neighborhood, and Alston said it's infuriating. He said it's hard to talk about it with the women in his life who may be victims of abuse because they get offended and defensive."It makes my blood boil, these fools out there doing this to women," Alston said. "It's a sensitive subject."
Memminger said the key to turning domestic violence victims into empowered people is getting them away from their abusers and helping them develop their personal skills, be it managing money, learning computers or going back to school.
Eight women in one of her programs are in college, including Linda Conley, 56, who was abused by an older man she was in a relationship with when she was 14. Now, she's studying to be an addiction counselor. Conley said drug addiction fueled her lack of self-esteem, which made her vulnerable to an abusive man. She was beaten and sexually assaulted over the long-term relationship. She said she isn't seeing anyone now, but if she did, she'd have her boundaries set firm. "If we're in a relationship and you have to put your hands on me, we don't need to be together," she said.
A couple of awesome things going on here. First, its fantastic to see members of law enforcement on the front line of standing against crime and violence. They're not just there when on the job, but also as citizens of the community. Additionally, I love that young people, many who are directly impacted by crime and violence, are taking a stand and getting involved.
The Detroit 300 is an organization dedicated to ending crime and violence. Check it out. This organization was heavily involved in the march.