In an effort to break the cycle of domestic violence, Rapid City officials launched "Domestic Violence Awareness Month" Monday.

"Domestic violence is something that not only affects the generation that it happens in, it causes destruction for generations to come," said Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker, who proclaimed October domestic violence awareness month in the city.

"The only way to break the cycle of violence is to break the silence," said Gordon Decker, vice president of Working Against Violence Inc., a program that provides shelter, food and support for area domestic violence victims.

Last year, WAVI served 2,345 victims of domestic violence and gave shelter to 565 women and children, Decker said. Many more victims do not report violence, he said.

A one-day survey of domestic violence facilities in the state last year showed that nearly 500 domestic violence victims found help and 106 people who asked for help did not get it because organizations did not have enough money or staff.

Also at the event were Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, Rapid City Police Department Capt. Doug Thrash, Pennington County Deputy State's Attorney Todd Hyronimus and Mrs. South Dakota, Shapeera Afraid of Lightning.

Afraid of Lightning said she has been a victim of domestic violence.

"I know the importance of having a system intact like WAVI does," she said. "I appreciate all that is being done, and I will continue to do my part in helping."

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WAVI has planned several activities for October to raise awareness of domestic violence. The group will set up an information table at the Rapid City Public Library starting at 11 a.m. on Oct. 19, and on Oct. 20, again, WAVI will present a lunch and learn discussion at the library about the effects of domestic violence on children.

Contact Ruth Moon at 394-8418 or



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