DART shines light on issue of domestic violence

October 26, 2017


Kacie Kaufman

Managing Editor | kjk019@latech.edu


Two seemingly unrelated events in Ruston currently share a goal: a local pumpkin patch and an upcoming candlelight vigil. Both are sponsored by Ruston’s Domestic Abuse Resistance Team and aim to raise awareness during October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. DART offers services including an emergency shelter, a hotline and counseling for those affected by domestic and dating violence.


DART will hold a candlelight vigil for 33 area victims of domestic violence at 6 p.m. today at the Lincoln Parish Library Event Center.


According to Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Louisiana ranks second as the deadliest state for women, based on the number of women murdered by men.


Kate Sartor Hilburn, the community advocate for DART, said in addition to Louisiana’s ranking as the second deadliest state, with a large number of these cases involving domestic violence, the statistically most susceptible group includes college-aged students.


“The group that suffers the most abuse statistically is women between 16 and 24, and so the college campus group of people are the targets for this to happen,” she said.


Hilburn said DART was active in reaching out to college students.


“It seems like it’s very important to talk to kids who are starting out in their college careers,” she said. “You know, just to give them an idea that it is a problem and what they might come across or might get involved in before they even know it and some solutions to avoiding it, solutions to dealing with if things come up. I think that’s why we put so much emphasis on that.”


Hilburn said the organization helps approximately 1,000 women, men and children each year, largely through the help of volunteers, including students at Tech.


“I just can’t believe how great the students have been to DART,” she said. “Just different groups, teams and clubs and sororities and things like that, because we don’t have a big staff or anything and we’re in a rural area, Ruston being the biggest (city). We have seven parishes but Ruston is our big city so it’s a challenge to get volunteers.”


Hilburn said the true cause of the problem of domestic violence is not entirely clear.


“I’ve done a lot of work and know a lot about domestic violence and try to keep up with all of that, and no one has really come up with a definitive cause,” she said. “It’s not caused by alcohol or drug abuse. It’s not caused by poor anger management. I think the root of domestic violence we say now, is power and control in a relationship, and domination and power and control. That’s the kind of thing that will take a culture shift to make better.”


She said raising awareness about the issue was a large part of DART’s mission, and one way this was done was through the organization’s annual vigil.


“We feel like it’s really important to call their names out to recognize that these are people that (were victims) to remember them,” Hilburn said. “Because they are really why we are doing this and we think about them, we remember them every day, and we just want the community to remember.  We want to say their names out loud and light a candle for them and have people remember them once a year.”


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