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100 at vigil to end domestic violence

by Sheila Gardner

As the sky darkened, the distinctions disappeared: male or female, teen-ager or adult, victim or friend. Tennis games were interrupted, picnickers paused and vehicles yielded right of way to the participants in the Soroptimist International of Carson Valley’s second annual candlelight vigil on Monday at Lampe Park to raise awareness of and show support for victims of domestic violence.

The comingling of guitar music and dozens of voices singing the old hymn “Amazing Grace” provided accompaniment to marchers as they walked the short distance from the park pavilion to the Family Support Council building.

The one-hour vigil was part of a nationwide observance during October which has been designated National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The Carson Valley chapter of Soroptimist International has donated more than $20,000 toward the Family Support Council’s effort to establish a shelter for victims of domestic violence and their families.

Kari Daniels of Carson City, who lived in an abusive relationship for nine years, told a story of fear and violence that tracked her and her three children through six states.

Behind closed doors. “The abuser in my life was perceived as a good, kind, smart and successful person,” she said. “But people didn’t know about what happened behind closed doors. It was a disgrace.”

The final incident, Daniels said, occurred at Lake Tahoe where she was living with her mother and children. She discovered her husband had found her again.

“I watched him turn into the devil as he came through that window and beat me,” she said.

Daniels suffered such severe abuse, that she required reconstructive facial surgery. She first sought help at the Family Support Council in August 1998. Daniels thanked law enforcement and medical professionals for saving her life.

“I want all women out there to know there is an end. Stay strong,” she said.

District Judge Dave Gamble encouraged the community to practice what he called “other esteem, to esteem your neighbor more highly than yourself.”

“All of us, my age and below, were brought up to believe we deserve all good things,” Gamble said. “It’s not wisdom to teach that our desires are more important than those of the person next to us. Real wisdom is pure, peaceable and willing to yield. Real wisdom teaches us to value others.”

“I will tell you if each person here were to do that, people would notice,” Gamble said. “It’s not a new principle, it’s very, very old. But it is new to use today. Let’s not answer violence with violence. Let’s lose our ardent desire for our own needs and wants.”

Challenge issued. Sixteen-year-old Justin Thran of Smith Valley, who has raised more than $27,000 for charity through the sale of his woodcrafts, challenged the business community to match his $100 donation toward the shelter during October.

“Stop the silence about domestic violence,” he said. “Take the pictures and the stories from the paper and post them at work and at home. Tell your friends about Domestic Violence Month. Remember to stand up and be counted not only for this month, but forever.”

Father Bill Nadeau of St. Gall Catholic Church, who offered the invocation, encouraged participants to “open your eyes to see victims of domestic violence, open your ears to hear their cries for help, and open your hearts to see their pain.”

He prayed that “we learn how to forgive those who have personally offended us and be wise enough to accept deliverance from evil.”

The Family Support Council offers a variety of programs for victims of violence and their families, as well as a 24-hour crisis line, parenting classes and other programs. For information, call 782-8692. The Stateline number is 588-7171.