CROWN POINT | Flickering candles placed in white paper bags Monday illuminated the names of more than 140 women and men who have died in Lake County since 1995 at the hands of those who swore they loved them.
The 18th annual St. Jude House Candlelight Vigil at the First United Methodist Church brought together survivors of domestic violence and abuse, their advocates, law enforcement officers and religious leaders.
Dozens walked from the Lake County Fairgrounds to the church on Main Street carrying signs with such messages as “End the Silence About Abuse” and “Peace Starts at Home.”
“We’ve had four people die in Lake County so far this year from domestic violence, 62 in the state,” said Mary E. Govert, executive director of St. Jude House, a family violence prevention center and shelter.
Those four — Kimberly Danielewicz, Brian Lunn, Rhona Neher and Brittany Peters — were honored during the vigil.
“We have 12 women and 15 children with us beginning their journey to their peaceful life,” Govert said. “A victim can become a survivor.”
One of those survivors, named Brenda, shared her own journey from more than 30 years of physical and mental abuse.
“You can recover from abuse,” she said. “You must walk away to save your life.”
Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said the most dangerous situation for any law enforcement officer is a domestic call.
“We just buried a police officer in Indianapolis. He was 42 years old, answering a call for a domestic violence situation. He opened the door and a gun shot ended his life,” Buncich said.
Academy training for police officers now involves more extensive training “because there are more incidents, more and more violence in society today,” he said.
“It affects the spouses and the children for the rest of their lives.”