Silence is sexual assault and domestic violence's biggest ally, but Working Against Violence, Inc., is striving to change that by raising community awareness and helping victims find their voices.

On Tuesday, WAVI kicked-off a month-long campaign to increase public awareness of domestic violence with a press conference co-sponsored with the Pennington County Sheriff's Office/Rapid City Police Department Domestic Violence Care Team.

Mayor Sam Kooiker joined the group of officials attending the press conference to proclaim October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Rapid City.

Throughout the month, WAVI employees and volunteers will reach out to educate the community and celebrate those who have survived domestic violence to move on with their lives.

Domestic violence is a "despicable" element of society that has been around since man's early beginnings and will likely continue into the future, Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender said during the press conference.

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But Rapid City has something to celebrate because of the strong partnership network between WAVI and other agencies in the region that supports victims, Allender said.

Attitudes that once kept domestic violence closeted and hid from the community have changed, Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo said.

WAVI helps victims find their voices not only in court but in their personal lives, he said.

"They are inspired to break the silence," Vargo said.

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Contact Andrea J. Cook at 394-8423 or andrea.cook@rapidcityjournal.com

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