Shining light on domestic abuse

October 2, 2018

The man who was married to Becky Risch’s sister never hit her during their seven-year marriage.

Until one day, after the divorce, at her townhouse in Whitestown, Indiana. 

“She was in her townhouse and I don’t know what it was they fought about : we never will find out what exactly they fought about,” Risch said. “But he was in her townhouse, it was her property, and he hit her. What does it take?”

Beth didn’t make it, Risch said, adding that 15 municipal agencies coalesced to fight for Beth after her death on June 12, 2009. The man who hit her is now in prison.

Fort Wayne’s YWCA marked the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month with flowers, which attendees dropped into the St. Marys River from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge, to symbolize the journey domestic violence survivors and their families travel, said Jennifer Rohlf, the YWCA’s director of empowerment. 

“Sometimes that journey can be unfortunately a really rough journey and sometimes it can be a really positive one as people are able to escape and live really happy, healthy, safe lives,” Rohlf said. 

Beth’s ordeal was strenuous on her and the rest of her family, Risch said. 

“There weren’t long-sleeve shirts, but there were always excuses,” Risch said of measures some battery victims use to cover their abuse. “What sort of excuses are protecting her, what sort of excuses are protecting us and what sort of excuses are protecting her children?”

It’s hard to know how to help someone who is suffering domestic violence, Risch said. 

“I don’t always know how we can help, but all I ever did with Beth was I encouraged her, I told her she could do it. I told her that she was very capable of this,” Risch said. 

Quality of place is important to people looking to move to or visit Fort Wayne, Mayor Tom Henry said Monday before reading a proclamation dedicating October to awareness of domestic violence. Part of that, Henry said, is having programs and agencies like the YWCA that reach out to each other and citizens to provide a network in times of need.

“A lot of cities don’t have nearly the network that we’ve established here in Fort Wayne and for that we should be very proud and very humbled because many of you are volunteers who don’t have to be here,” Henry said. “You don’t have to make this a part of your day and yet you’ve chosen to do that and I think that makes all the difference between a good city and a great city.” 

The YWCA offers support for women, men and children suffering from domestic violence and operates a hotline and crisis shelter for those in need. The organization also provides community programs for those experiencing domestic violence but who are not in need of shelter, as well as home-based support for survivors. 

The Domestic Violence Crisis Line can be reached at 260-447-7233 or 800-441-4073.


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