March Tuesday to focus on domestic violence

Night falls on the city of Opelousas as hundreds of marchers take to the streets to combat domestic violence by taking part in the 11th annual Take Back the Night march and rally held on the steps of the St. Landry Parish Courthouse. (Photo: Freddie Herpin;Daily World)

Take Back the Night demonstrations developed over 30 years ago when women began to speak publicly about the dangers they face.

The 14th version of the march and vigil in Opelousas, scheduled for Tuesday night, will focus on threats people face within their own homes from spouses, romantic partners, siblings and parents.

Tuesday’s event follows several violent incidents that have hit the parish in recent months

One incident, a husband-wife murder-suicide in June at a home on Glen St. A second incident occurred in Sunset in August and left two people dead and three others severely injured.

Incidents like these are one reason the organizers of the 14th annual Take back the Night march and vigil say the public needs awareness of the issue of domestic violence.

“We try to make the community aware of the services that all the agencies provide in our area,” said Laura Balthazar, executive director of the St. Landry-Evangeline Sexual Assault Center. “In order to make the community aware, you must have a collaboration effort with all the nonprofit, social and health agencies.”

Balthazar said court appointed special advocates (CASA), Community Youth Services and United Way are some of the organizations providing informational booths Tuesday.

She said some information presented Tuesday may give some women the help they need to get out of a tough situation.

Many women who are victims of domestic abuse will probably find some information that will help them to safely leave the battery,” Balthazar said. “We have guidelines and things that they need. They made just need a little helpful push.”

In addition to the domestic violence issues over the last several months, Balthazar said her organization has had 16 sexual assaults that they have responded to in the last three months. “That was from the ages of 5 and up,” she added.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday outside Opelousas Junior High School, 730 S. Market St. From there, participants will march to the St. Landry Parish Courthouse at 118 S. Court St. Speakers and a candlelight vigil are scheduled at the end.

“If you’ve had someone that has been lost as a victim of domestic violence, we ask that you please come out and support the event,” Balthazar said.

Those who need more information — or in need of help — may call 337-585-4673. That’s the sexual assault center’s hotline, staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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