Safer Futures advocacy walk shines a light on domestic violence


Safer Futures

Izzy Stewart Reporter

Safer Futures and the local community gathered together for the first annual “Shine a Light on Domestic Violence Walk” on Saturday at Sunny Lake Park in Aurora. 

The evening was hosted by Safer Futures, Portage County’s only domestic violence shelter. The walk was 2.4 miles as a tribute to the 24 people abused by intimate partners every minute in the United States. After the walk, a candlelight vigil was held to honor the 109 people who lost their lives to domestic violence in Ohio in 2020. 

Donya Buchanan, director of domestic violence and visitation services for Family and Community Services, Inc., said that the walk had been an idea of Safer Futures for quite some time but the community was not quite on board. 

“For quite some time we have wanted to do this walk. We were met with opposition because different communities thought that domestic violence did not happen in their neighborhoods,” Buchanan said. 

Safer Futures helps serve 100,000 people each year through programming. Their services include a 24-hour hotline, shelter and resource center, domestic violence civil protection orders and civil anti-stalking and sexually oriented offense protection orders. 

As the number of domestic violence cases increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, Safer Futures brought the idea of the walk back into the conversation, and it was an “easy sell,” Buchanan explained.

In 2020, 854 incidents of domestic violence were reported to the Portage County Sheriff’s Department, according to Safer Futures. 

Buchanan expressed that an event like this can help the community come to terms that domestic violence exists. 

“It is our hope that the community is educated and that they realize that domestic violence happens everywhere. That is why our tag line is ‘it happens here too.’ Domestic violence knows no race, no age, no gender, no socioeconomic status. It happens everywhere,” Buchanan said. 

Renee Lacombe, an event participant, heard about the Shine a Light on Domestic Violence Walk through her church and thought it would be a valuable experience.

“Domestic violence is a serious issue and I thought this would be a great way to spend my Saturday evening in showing support,” Lacombe said. 

Program Manager Vanessa Jackson finds it important that the community understands the reality of domestic violence. 

“Domestic violence is happening in our community and events like this can shine a light on the issue,” Jackson said.

Safe Futures has over 3,500 individuals volunteer every year with events like the Shine a Light on Domestic Violence Walk.  

The community can play a vital role in bringing attention to domestic violence, according to Buchanan.

“It is important that the community is educated so that when this issue comes up, they know how to provide the necessary support to those in need. It is also our hope that those in attendance will point anyone in need to Safer Futures,” Buchanan said. 

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Izzy Stewart is a crisis and recovery reporter. Contact them at [email protected]