By Alan Sorensen
Kathy Sewell, head administrator of Montanas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said the tragedy of domestic violence hit Montana hard this past year.
Just this past summer we saw several homicides as a result of domestic violence, Sewell said.
In June Leroy Schmitz was charged with killing his wife, Mary Ann, in Whitefish. Near Libby in August, Heather Smith was murdered, allegedly by her boyfriend. Mitchell Kennedy was charged on Sept. 21 with killing his wife, Lavonne, in Superior. Then, just last month in Missoula, Kathy Sullivan and her boyfriend, Scott Bardsley, were murdered by Sullivans estranged husband, who then killed himself.
While the number of murders stemming from domestic violence are staggering, Sewell said, the tragedy of domestic violence is that it remains an invisible crime.
It usually happens in the privacy of our homes to women so fearful of more violence that they keep the horror to themselves, she said.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is intended to introduce victims and others to options other than silence.
We like to use this month to let victims know that there is help for them, that the violence can end, and that life can get better, Sewell said. We also use (vigils, rallies, art displays and ribbon campaigns) to raise awareness about domestic violence if we keep pretending it doesnt happen here, then it will continue to plague every Montana community.
The number for the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence is 1-888-404-7794.