Candlelight vigil hits home for Simpson students


by Olivia Samples, Director of Marketing

INDIANOLA, Iowa — A candlelight vigil was hosted at Brickhouse Tavern last Thursday for victims of domestic violence. The powerful event, hosted by the Warren County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, had a significant impact on Simpson students.

Up the stairs at Brickhouse leads you to a gathering, which at first glance could be any group of women with a handful of men scattered about the room. They are all here for a cause; some are survivors, others just supporting in the best ways they know how. Domestic violence doesn’t always seem obvious from the outside, but it impacts everyone who knows it.

This is the fourth year the vigil has been hosted with the goal of raising awareness for domestic violence. One key message from the event was that it is a problem everywhere, including your own community.

Bri Wood of Children & Families of Iowa was the organizer for the event. She said, “[Domestic violence] is very prevalent everywhere. College students need to be aware what it is and how to help someone if a friend is going through that, or a family member. They need to know how to help them in the best way, how to be there and be supportive.”

The event began with a survivor’s powerful telling of her own story and then poems from other survivors. The poems were read by community members, Simpson students and the survivors themselves. Each poem was a powerful testament to the pain of domestic violence and the hope of freedom from it.

Senior Rachel Farner read a survivor’s poem. She said, “I felt very humbled reading the poem of a survivor. Many victims are too ashamed to come forward and admit that they believed he/she wouldn’t hit them again. I cannot imagine the strength it takes for victims to leave those situations.”

The event ended with the candlelight vigil and stories of domestic violence victims who did not survive. Standing in a dark room illuminated by candles of supporters was powerful. The heartbreaking stories of lives lost to domestic violence was difficult, but necessary to hear.

Ethan Zierke, a senior, said, “It made me uncomfortable to hear these women’s stories but it’s important to listen to things that make you uncomfortable. The reality is that these things happen and the only way we can do anything about it is if we come to terms with that unfortunate reality.”

When asked what you can do to support victims, Wood said, “The best things you can do for a victim is believe them, don’t blame that person, be there as a support, listen without judgement and ask what they need.”

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, resources on campus include SARA (call 515.330.6392), counseling services and Mara Bailey, our campus chaplain. Children & Families of Iowa also has a safe shelter and crisis line available (call 1.800.942.0333). For volunteer opportunities, contact [email protected] or call 515-697-7968.