Shirts honoring victims of domestic violence at memorial service at Veterans Affairs Health System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville

FAYETTEVILLE — Ozark Veterans Affairs Health System hosted a domestic violence awareness event Wednesday that was attended by at least 40 people and included a silent reminder for the hundreds who were unable to attend.

During the 10 a.m. event, dozens of infant- and child-sized T-shirts were displayed on the walls and windows of the system’s specialty care building in Fayetteville. Each garment represents a person killed by domestic violence in Arkansas, and each shirt was decorated by family members and volunteers. The shirts are dedicated to two former veterans who worked at the Fayetteville facility: James Stan McGee, 59, and Richard Shane Brotherton, 50. Ta. The two were killed in separate incidents in 2021.

The Clothesline Project of the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence is taking the shirts to events around the state, said Brandi Daly of North Little Rock, the coalition’s community response coordinator. Daly said at an event Wednesday.

For the past 10 years, the coalition has maintained a shirt for each deceased domestic violence victim, each featuring a variety of drawings and embellishments, from the victim’s child’s favorite toy to poems and adult mementos. is depicted. On Wednesday, more shirts were hung in line than could fit in the building’s main hall. They overflowed and filled the side aisles. Daly said the collection has grown to nearly 800 shirts so far. After 10 years, each shirt will go back to the community and family where it was created, she said.

Based on the latest available statistics, Arkansas has the fourth-highest rate of domestic violence deaths per 100,000 people among the 50 states, Daly said. These numbers are for 2021 and were compiled by the nonprofit Violence Policy Center, she said.

All patients at the Ozarks VA Center are screened for domestic violence and intimate partner violence, said Fayetteville resident Andrea Predl, the center’s anti-violence program coordinator and therapist. She explained that domestic violence is perpetrated by her cohabitants. Intimate partner violence occurs from a partner or ex-partner who has been separated from the target, sometimes for years. Different types of abuse require different responses. Materials regarding appropriate responses and resources were made available at Wednesday’s event.

The awareness event ended with the names of all 45 Arkansans who died from domestic violence or intimate partner violence in 2020 being read aloud. Their ages range from one year old to 83 years old.

Important advice given at the event: Don’t ask why. Ask what you can do to help. Speakers said asking why people commit abuse places the blame on the victim.

photograph Audience members take the White Ribbon Veterans Pledge Against Harassment, Sexual Assault, and Domestic Violence during a ceremony at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks Specialty Care Facility on the Fayetteville campus on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023. The event featured speakers, pledges and a moment of silence for victims of domestic violence as part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month observance. For today’s photo gallery, visit (NWA Democrat Gazette/Andy Shoop)

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