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Wednesday, October 5, 2022


See also the St. Croix Source report, "Marchers silently 'Take Back the Night'".
Oct. 24, 2002 – As twilight fell on Love City Thursday, the glow of candles illuminated a crowd remembering those who had lost their lives to domestic violence.
It was the second year the St. John Safety Zone had organized a march to draw attention to violence in the home. Last year, marchers carried a banner with the names of more than 30 people who had died of such abuse in the Virgin Islands over the past 15 years. This year, they brought the victims themselves.
For two days before the march, artists created silhouettes of women and children, then attached signs bearing the victims' names. One person who helped spray paint the images was Safety Zone administrative assistant Cecilia Bartley, who said it left her feeling haunted.
"That was awful, for the fact that it reminds you it was once a person's life," she said.
Volunteer Joyce Horn sat by the brochure table, listening to speakers at the Cruz Bay bandstand and responding to passersby seeking information. Horn said she thought this year's event attracted more public support than the first one, and that the people she shared information with were more thoughtful.
"It's very important to me," Horn said. "I choose to do it. There were several other volunteer opportunities I could have chosen to do. They say the art of love is listening, and that's No. 1 with me. Sometimes all you have to do is have an open ear and listen."
A short distance away, Evelyn Stephens sat on a park bench, listening, too. She said she didn't march, but when someone handed her a flyer about the event several days earlier, she decided to come.
The march could have used more supporters, she said, but she was impressed by the number of young people who showed up. "I wanted to see what it was about," she said. "It was interesting, and what I found good was that the young teen-agers came out to support; so, when they get older they would know what it's all about."
By the time the Rev. Bruce Graham of the St. John Seventh-day Adventist Church began describing ways that domestic violence harms different family members, a core of supporters formed tight knots around the foot of the bandstand and in small groups perched on the hoods of safari buses parked across the street.
"Too many women and children have been threatened and battered," Graham said, but it didn't stop there. After batterings, many victims go back home to suffer debilitating verbal and psychological abuse which wears down their spirits, he said. Elderly victims are being intimidated and robbed by children and grandchildren who are supposed to protect them in their later years. In some cases, men are falling prey to abusive women.
It is time for neighbor to look after neighbor, Graham said, and to help victims recognize their problem, get help and, if necessary, form emergency action plans.
For Stephens, domestic violence issues are perplexing. She asked, what makes abusers do what they do? And what happens when women realize they're in a relationship with someone who can never finish an argument, once it's started?
It would be better if two people agreed to leave each other alone and go their separate ways, she said.

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