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The annual Domestic Violence Memorial Service was held Nov. 6 at Alton Memorial Hospital, attended by approximately 60 people from the community. The program featured speakers from the Madison County Circuit Court (Judges Stephen Stobbs and Maureen Schuette), Sheriff's Office (Marcos Pulido) and County Coroner Steve Nonn. June Blaine also spoke in memory of a good friend and neighbor named Ellie, who was a domestic violence victim in 2001. Kathy Schulz of Oasis Women's Center sang "Let There Be Peace on Earth." Visitors got a look at the Madison County Clothesline Project, which features many sobering messages.
The annual event is sponsored by the Domestic Violence team at AMH; Madison County Third Judicial Circuit Court, Family Violence Prevention Council; Madison County Child Advocacy Center; Riverbend Family Ministries; Oasis Women's Center; Zonta Club of Alton-Wood River; Metro Easet Every Survivor Counts; Refuge; Riverbend Head Start & Family Services; Land of Lincoln Legal Aid Inc.; and Church Women United.
"To any of you that are suffering, you don't deserve that," said Madison County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Marcos Pulido. "You are important. You are loved and you matter! We are here for you."
"Every nine seconds in the U.S. there's a woman or man being abused domestically," said Madison County Coroner Steve Nonn, who dramatically paused for nine seconds to indicate that another incident had occured somewhere. "I think it is our job to get on top of the highest mountain and shout it out - we have a problem and we need to come together as a community and support those people. Sometimes the voice the abuser has taken away from them, we can give it right back to them as a community."
Pictured above: The Rev. Jim Johnston of First Christian Church in Alton rang a Tibetan prayer bowl as Mary Cordes, president of the Oasis Women's Center board of directors, read the names of each of the nine most recent domestic violence fatalities in Madison County -- three of them under the age of 5.