Eight-year-old Alia Copeland stood in the rain outside Indiana University Kokomo Tuesday evening holding a sign that read, “Things I learned in kindergarten: Keep your hands to yourself.”
Alia’s mom, Jessica Calderon, who stood beside her in the drizzle, said it’s simple behavior most people follow, but it’s something her dad didn’t know how to do.
Calderon said she grew up with an abusive father, who mistreated her and her mother.
But Calderon was fighting back against that abuse Tuesday evening.
Along with a crowd of more than 300 people, she and her daughter walked a mile on South Washington Street through the chilly rain to raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault in Kokomo.
The march was part of the 8th annual Take Back the Night event and Angel Walk, an international rally and march organized within local communities.
“For me, this walk is personal,” Calderon said before heading out from IUK’s Alumni Hall into the drizzling rain. “Having events like this, it gets the word out, and it tells the people who are abusive loud and clear that we’re uniting together to stop it. It not only speaks to survivors but those who are the cause of the violence.”
And the event also helps raise funding for the local domestic violence shelter, which the Family Service Association of Howard County has run since 2003.
Judy Dennis, executive director of the association, said Take Back the Night raised about $26,000 for the shelter last year. She said they hope to raise $30,000 this year.
“We depend a lot on donations,” she said. “These are the type of things that help us maintain the quality of our services.”
Those services include providing clothes, food and medication to the roughly 200 women and children who move into the shelter each year to escape abuse.