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Marchers Decry Domestic Violence in TOPEKA KANSAS

http://cjonline.com/news/local/2010-10-22/marchers_decry_domestic_violence

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    PHIL ANDERSON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

    Claudine Dombrowski, 45, of Topeka, who described herself as a victim of domestic violence, shows one of the signs she carried in Friday’s "March to Action" in downtown Topeka. The march, which attracted about 100 participants, was held in conjunction with the YWCA’s Week Without Violence.

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    BY PHIL ANDERSON

    October 22, 2010 – 1:08pm

    Participants in Friday afternoon’s "March to Action" in downtown Topeka varied in age, race and gender.

    Some marchers held signs and chanted slogans, while others walked silently.

    Yet all carried the same message: Domestic violence must be confronted, it must be stopped, and survivors must be supported.

    "I’m a survivor who lost everything but my life," said Claudine Dombrowski, 45, of Topeka, who said she has been at all 16 marches held each October in conjunction with the YWCA’s Week Without Violence. "I come out here every year to bring awareness, because I can’t let it keep happening to other people."

    About 100 people turned out for the march, which started on the south side of the Statehouse and ended about two blocks south at the YWCA of Topeka, 225 S.W. 12th.

    Before the march left the Statehouse, participants were urged by Kansas Attorney General Steve Six to be aware of people they knew who may be victims of domestic violence — and to assist them in seeking help.

    Six also applauded volunteers who work with domestic violence victims, and prosecutors who hold perpetrators responsible for their crimes.

    Among local law enforcement heads taking part in the walk were Topeka Police Chief Ron Miller, Shawnee County Sheriff Dick Barta and Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor.

    Jay Rice, 26, of Meriden, came with several other students from Washburn University, where he is a senior.

    Rice said the march was a way of keeping domestic violence in front of a public that might prefer not to deal with the issue.

    "It’s a good way to put it out in front of everybody," he said. "Even if they don’t want to see it, they get a little glimpse of it."

    Elizabeth Johnson, 32, of Topeka, another marcher, said she was a domestic violence survivor.

    A fiance in college, she said, was the abuser.

    "By God’s grace," she said, "I was able to get out of that relationship."

    Like other marchers on the cloudy Friday afternoon, Johnson said the subject of domestic violence was too important to ignore.

    "I think it’s something that’s just not talked about," she said. "That’s why I’m here — I want to raise awareness and stand up for the people who don’t have a voice. And a lot of these women just don’t have a voice."

    The Week Without Violence started Sunday evening with a prayer vigil for victims and survivors at Grace Episcopal Cathedral, a showing of the film "Telling Amy’s Story" at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library and a teen program titled "Relationship Ready!" at Royal Valley High School in Hoyt.

    The Week Without Violence concludes Saturday, with two youth-oriented programs.

    "Story Time for Kids" will take place from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Toy Store, 5300 S.W. 21st. Children will be treated to the short play "Strength," about a group of animals that learn the difference between being strong and being violent.

    The final event will be the "Speak Up, Speak Out Teen Art Night" at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Live Music Institute, 5224 S.W. 17th. Topeka high school and middle school students get the chance to speak about healthy relationships through artwork, the spoken word and music.

    Phil Anderson can be reached at (785) 295-1195 or phil.anderson@cjonline.com.

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