NEW CASTLE —
With each passing year, the light of domestic violence awareness shines more brightly.
The Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County aims to keep it that way. Speaking at Monday night’s Paint for Peace rally, survivor Vanessa Taylor told of what can happen when education is absent.
Taylor, a former North Carolina resident, shared that in the late 1980s, after spending nine-and-a-half years in an abusive relationship, she told the father of her two children she wanted out.
Although she described him as “very controlling, very possessive,” and always having to know her whereabouts and telling her how to dress, Taylor said her one-time partner moved out and seemed to “move on about his business.”
“But this was back in the 1980s, and you didn’t see and hear as much as you do now about domestic violence,” she said. “The teaching wasn’t there. I was being stalked by him and I didn’t know it.”
One night, she returned home after an evening out and heard a knock at her door at 4 a.m. As she went downstairs to answer the door, a window was broken and the man with whom she had spent nearly a decade burst in and beat her with a baseball bat. She sustained head injuries, two broken arms, a broken leg, a broken ankle, crushed ribs and a punctured liver.
“I was beaten so severely by that bat that I ended up in a wheelchair,” Taylor said. “Doctors told me that I probably would never walk again, and if I did, it would be with a limp.
“But today, I stand before you, not as a victim, but as a victorious woman — a survivor. And I love to stand before people to tell them, if you’re in this situation, you can get out. And if you have been in that situation, and it feels like a big weight upon you, you can lift that weight, you can overcome and you can live again — because I have.”
Sue Deck, interim director of the Crisis Shelter, noted that “more than one in three women and more than one in four men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and or/stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”
“That is why an event like Paint for Peace is so important in our community,” she said of the annual event that invites the public to create and submit works of art addressing domestic violence. “This gathering shows victims of domestic violence that they are not alone.
“It reminds us that together, we can shine a light of hope through expressive and inspiring artwork, like what surrounds us this evening.”
The night featured 57 works of art submitted by the community. Ten finalists were selected from the student artwork division, and five each from the community and group artwork categories. Those attending Monday’s rally voted to select the top three in each category.
“Climbing Up Through” by Mykenzie Davey captured first place in the student division. Leslie Michael’s “Handle With Care” was tops in the community category, while “Breaking the Chains of Abuse” by Ashley Falba and Anastasia Truby finished No. 1 in the group competition.
Local businesses also were invited to create window displays, photos of which were posted on the shelter’s website for online voting. Community Alternatives Inc. won a close battle with the Children’s Advocacy Center, garnering 737 votes to the runner-up’s 689.
Winning works will be displayed publicly in the community throughout November and will be featured in the 2014 Paint for Peace campaign.