ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – More than 100 people ran and walked Saturday at Bella Fontaine Park to raise awareness on domestic violence and abuse.
The Journey Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse in North St. Louis County holds the event on a near-annual basis. Survivors spoke with FOX 2 and shared why the event is so important.
“You guys don’t know the impact that your presence makes when you come out to an event of this nature, for someone who’s dealing with or who’s dealt with that type of trauma,” said Cynthia Bennett, JADASA founder/CEO and domestic violence survivor. “Your presence is a ministry.”
Saturday’s event was a time to be with survivors and their families, remember those who were taken, and to celebrate freedom.
“When I came to JADASA, I was broke. I was homeless. I left my parents’ house at the age of 18 and got married, so I never lived on my own,” said Milly, a domestic violence survivor. “Since working with JADASA, I was able to get an order of protection to get away from my abuser. Now I have my own apartment, I have my own furniture, I have my own money to take care of me and my kids,”
This is JADASA’s annual community-wide event to raise awareness, and to educate about the effects of domestic and sexual abuse and neglect.
JADASA is a community-based nonprofit that provides anti-violence education, workshops, and services to women, girls, and their families. It supports women and girls who have survived, are experiencing, or have witnessed intimate partner or family violence.
U.S Congresswoman and survivor Cori Bush shared her story, and how she was able to escape a deadly situation.
“I kept running, I’m about to get away. Next thing I knew I heard shots. Shots aimed at me. The realization that someone you loved and someone you thought you loved – that they could do such horrible terrible things is an unimaginable pain,” she said.
The proceeds of the walk and run help women and their children with emergency resources that will help them in relocating and transitioning out of abusive environments.
“When children are in a family where there is domestic violence, they may not be the target of the violence, but they are always in the audience,” said Rene Howitt, CEO of Cope24.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, almost 20 people per minute on average are physically abused by an intimate partner. That equates to more than 10 million women and men in a year.
On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide, and 19% of domestic violence cases involve a weapon.