BLACKFOOT — The Bingham Crisis Center hosted a candlelight vigil Wednesday night to raise awareness of domestic violence and to recognize those who have been abused or lost their lives to domestic violence. Approximately 40 people were in attendance.
Domestic violence is a problem in Bingham County and throughout the country. As economic stresses have put stress on relationships, the number of domestic violence incidents have increased.
The Crisis Center provided services for 509 primary or secondary victims of domestic violence in 2009, providing shelter for 25 women and 16 children.
"That is a huge amount for our little community," Crisis Center Executive Director Dixie Chapman said. "The increase is absolutely phenomenal."
Kay Stump, a domestic violence survivor, shared her story at the vigil. Stump was in an abusive marriage for 30 years before having the courage to leave.
"I was threatened, pushed, shoved," Stump said. "Things would go well for a short time, then it would start all over again."
Over time, her husband became an alcoholic, which furthered the abuse.
"I rarely came home from work and found him sober," Stump said.
Stump began working two jobs to pay the bills and to get away from home; her husband did not work. Things got worse when Stump was laid off from her primary job and was home more often.
She detailed one morning when she came home and found her husband already drunk.
"I remember thinking 'I would rather die,'" Stump said.
It was then that Stump went upstairs, took her purse and left.
"I had no money, I had nothing," Stump said.
In the back of her mind she remembered the Crisis Center, where she eventually went for help. There she received her shelter, clothing and food. Most importantly, they provided her with counseling that helped her get past years of abuse.
"With their help I had the courage to leave him for good," Stump said. "I owe everything I have to the Crisis Center."
Stump has since remarried, and is in a healthy, happy relationship.
But not all stories end well. Lt. Paul Newbold told the story of the murder in Bingham County five years ago that claimed the innocent lives of a mother and her two children—a four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son.
Michelle Booth left California and came to Bingham County to get away from her abusive husband, Donald. Shortly after arriving in Bingham County, he had found them and was back. It wasn't long until he murdered Michelle, her children and then shot himself.
Michelle and her children, Salor and Wesley, are now silent witnesses—red wooden cutouts meant to remind the public of the severity of domestic violence.
"We need to make a difference," Newbold said. "We have to do the best we can to mitigate domestic violence."
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Crisis Center provides services to victims of domestic violence. They operate two shelter homes in Bingham County and provide counseling, case management, food, clothing and supplies.
The Crisis Center also operates a 24-hour crisis hotline, where advocates are available to provide support for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, teen dating violence, child abuse and suicide prevention. The crisis line is 681-8712.