MOUNT VERNON — Words of praise and hope were shared at a fundraising dinner for the New Directions Domestic Abuse Shelter on Thursday evening at the Knox County Career Center.
“We are so fortunate in this county that shelter and refuge can be provided through New Directions,” said board president Pat Keane in her opening comments. “Your support is really essential; we could not function without your support.”
New Directions Director Mary Hendrickson told of the history of New Directions, which began in 1983, telling how they have served over 1,100 women and over 1,500 children over the past 28 years.
Joan Stallard told about Delta Project, a community education program which focuses on primary prevention of intimate partner violence and sexual violence. Stallard told how Knox County is one of four counties in Ohio with a Delta Project, and that Ohio is one of 13 states which have these projects as well. “Every face in the crowd makes a difference,” said Stallard.
Keynote speaker for the evening was Aaron Allard, a victim of domestic violence in 1992 when his father attacked his mother and sister, killing them and wounding him in the process. “I never thought of the word ‘survivor’ until recently,” said Allard, in his opening remarks.
While there was hardly a dry eye in the room, Allard recounted the events of the tragic night 19 years ago.
“My grandmother is an amazing woman,” said Allard, who told how he went off to live with his grandparents for the next 18 years. “How she got through it that night I will never know.”
Allard and his brother, Jay, both received much support then from Moundbuilders Guidance Center.
“All the emotional support ... seeing that ... I knew I really respected that,” said Allard. “Eventually, I want to be there for someone and support them, when these things happen to them.”
His story told of his father and the struggles he faced as a child, going from victim to perpetrator.
“They (perpetrators) cannot see the world where they would be respected,” said Allard. “Domestic violence receives specialized attention and specialized resources. It is a fundamental breach of trust. I wondered how I would ever have a relationship or a family, when I fear that I am my father’s child.