HPU hosts The ARK candlelight vigil

Special to the Bulletin
The ARK’s Empty Shoes display is featured as part of an annual candlelight vigil hosted by HPU.

Howard Payne University recently hosted The ARK (Advocacy, Respect, Kindness) Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Shelter’s annual candlelight vigil honoring victims of domestic abuse, celebrating survivors and emphasizing the community’s commitment to ending domestic violence.

Bonnie Gosnell, a survivor of domestic violence, spoke about her experience with domestic violence and how she overcame it. Other speakers discussed domestic violence in the community and how The ARK responds to it. Harold Thomas, adjunct professor of criminal justice at HPU, reflected briefly on his experience as a police officer, and drew attention to the special studies course in domestic violence that the university would be offering in the spring. The vigil ended with the lighting of candles and a moment of silence to remember victims.

The vigil is held annually at HPU in October as part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Featured each year is The ARK’s “Empty Shoes” display. Each pair of shoes represents a Central Texas individual who died as a result of domestic violence. According to information provided by The ARK, one in four women and one in seven men aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Additionally, each year, more than 12 million people in the United States are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner.

“Domestic violence is a social problem that affects both men and women of any socioeconomic class, culture or ethnicity,” said Rachel Derrington-Bourke, assistant professor of social work and director of HPU’s social work program. “As a community we can commit to ending domestic violence by increasing awareness, assisting victims and their children and teaching individuals how to recognize healthy relationships.”

For more information, contact The ARK at 325-643-2699 or visit www.arkshelter.org. For more information about HPU’s Department of Social Work, visit www.hputx.edu/socialwork.