Green Lake "Take Back the Night" raises awareness in smaller communities

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GREEN LAKE, Wis. (WBAY)- October is domestic violence awareness month and its not just big cities holding events.

On Wednesday people in Green Lake gathered to raise awareness and highlight how the issue impacts many rural communities.

With the lights low and candles burning, organizers of a "Take Back the Night" event in Green Lake read off a list of names to highlight those who have died because of domestic abuse.

The issue is one every community faces.

"It's a nice reminder for the community that this happens to everyone, everywhere, every socio-economic background is effected by this. So we really want to educate the community on what domestic abuse looks like," said Beth Oswald, Executive Director of Christine Ann Abuse Services.

The event is also to promote how to find help, and who to turn to, should the need arise.

Heather Lawler of Traja added, "We have every resource that a big city has. We have the Christine Ann Center in Oshkosh. Traja is in Berlin and the surrounding area of Wisconsin. There's the national hotline."

So far this year in Wisconsin 61 people have died as a result of domestic abuse.

None of those cases were in Green Lake County, but a number of them did occur in small communities.

Dep. Matt Vandekolk of the Green Lake Co. Sheriff's Dept. said, "I think in rural Wisconsin specifically I think it occurs just as much as it does in the larger cities. I think the reporting is probably a bigger difference. I don't think incidents are maybe reported as often in small rural communities because people are afraid of maybe perhaps what their neighbors or friends might think."

The goal of the event is take away that stigma.

"Domestic violence is so secret, and it is hard to come out. You feel embarrassed, feel threatened and when everyone knows everyone sometimes the abusers can use that to their advantage," said Lawler.