Pinwheels for a purpose

Ashton Brellenthin | CNHI News IndianaPINWHEEL DISPLAY: These pinwheels placed on the Boone County Courthouse lawn represent people who have died as a result of domestic violence in Indiana since 2014.

About 29 orange pinwheels are planted on the Boone County Courthouse lawn. Each represents a person who has died as a result of domestic violence in Indiana since 2014, explained Joanna Shoemaker with the Zonta Club of Lebanon.

Shoemaker said this display is part of the larger 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign that is being celebrated by Zonta Clubs internationally. The 16-day period started Nov. 25 and will end on Dec. 10.

The campaign is aimed to get the average person to realize how many people domestic violence touches. By showing the deaths involved, people can see the most extreme outcome.

“It is jarring to see it, and you realize that this is happening right here in your community,” Lebanon Zonta vice president Christine Sterle said.

Lebanon Zonta president Lisa Conard said the display gives hope to victims. The pinwheels are a symbol, but the accompanying sign also gives a national hotline for domestic violence victims in need of help.

“I hope the display makes people realize that there is hope and help for them,” Conard said. “I don’t think people realize the impact that it has, and how close domestic violence is to us.”

The campaign focuses on deaths, but there are many more people who are impacted by domestic violence, whether it be physical, emotional, financial or sexual abuse or controlling behaviors. The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines it as “a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.”

Shoemaker said it is just as important for those who being controlled or emotionally abused to get out of the situation as individuals who are being physically abused.

“This type of man beats her spirit down so much that she doesn’t know what a healthy relationship is anymore,” Shoemaker said.

Zonta members also want those who are abused to know that it is never their fault. Domestic violence or sexual abuse reports are often power plays, Shoemaker explained.

“Women ask, ‘What did I do wrong?’” Shoemaker said. “But it is a power thing. He wants to hold power over a woman — maybe he won’t give her money, he won’t let her see her friends, he beats her.”

They also noted that women, men and children of all income levels, all socio-economic backgrounds and all ethnicities can be victims.

When calling the hotline number at 800-799-7233, victims can talk about their situation and get connected to resources.

Another local resource is Mental Health America of Boone County, which works closely with domestic violence victims of all ages in Boone County. MHA is at 1122 N. Lebanon St. and can be reached by calling 765-482-3020.

For those who suspect a friend of family member is being abused, just let them know that they are loved and that they can ask for help, Shoemaker advised.

“I told a girlfriend once: ‘If you need help at 3 a.m., I’ll be there at 3 a.m., don’t wait until 10 a.m.,’” Shoemaker said. “You should also tell them if it’s an emergency, they should call 911.”

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