The domestic violence issue in Springfield will be front and center during an awareness event on Thursday.
Unite Springfield against Domestic Violence is a town hall style forum, now in its second year, presented by the Springfield News-Leader.
“We just want people to be aware of the problem, and maybe more importantly to see ways they can help,” said Stephen Herzog, the paper’s engagement editor.
Herzog says that through its reporting this problem is continually brought to the News-Leader’s attention. The stories are depicted through the victims themselves, police and prosecutors who deal with this daily and non-profits such as Harmony House, a local safe house for domestic violence victims. This problem is so widespread that Harmony House has to turn away thousands of women and children every year.
“Despite the great services they offer, it’s just not quite enough. As much as this community works hard to combat domestic violence, it’s still quite a monster.”
Unite Springfield against Domestic Violence will feature an expert panel to discuss present issues facing victims, available services, and opportunities for citizens to help.
This event started last year. According to Herzog, “Just hearing the stories of victims is so powerful” and “it really brought it home” for attendees.
He continued, “I think people can discover at least there’s always someone there to help them through the process. Harmony House doesn’t always have space, but they’ve always got someone who will talk to a victim about all their options. The Victim Center is the same way.”
Herzog notes that hearing the stories of others helps empower victims to seek help. In order to address this at the event, student actors will portray real stories of Springfield victims.
The event aims to also give local citizens a better understanding of how to get involved.
“We want to find all those people and show them how easy it is to connect with these partners and help with the problem.”
The event is free and open to the public. It will be held from 6-7:30 pm Thursday at the Springfield Art Museum.