October 9, 2009
By Janet Lundquist for the Herald-News
JOLIET — People crowded into the theater at Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park on Thursday night to stand vigil in honor of victims of violence against women.
The 13th Annual Take Back The Night event was intended not only to serve as a memorial for those affected by violence, but also as a vehicle for educating others about the issue.
Violence against women isn’t confined to domestic incidents, said Chairwoman Jodi Wartenberg. It is far-reaching, and touches all women in everyday life, she said.
This year’s speaker, Art Moore with the Illinois Center for Violence Prevention, urged men to actively prevent violence against women.
“He’s trying to bring an awareness to men that any woman they know will do everything they can in order to make themselves safe,” Wartenberg said. “(Women) don’t just park anywhere. They look in the back seat. They put a hammer in their car. There’s things women do every day to lessen their chance of being a victim. The fact that the threat is there changes her life.”
Memorializing the lost
In March, Angela Charles, 23, and her husband Brian Charles, 31, were shot to death in their Joliet Township home. Their 2-year-old son Sean was spared. Police found him in the home when they found his parents.
Angela’s mother, Jackie Roth, grandparents, other family members and friends attended Thursday’s event in their memory. “It’s sad,” said Jackie Roth, Angela’s mother, stroking the toddler’s head. “This little boy asks about his mom and his dad all the time.” Police are still investigating the incident, and no arrests have been made.
Roth said she had heard about Take Back The Night before, but had not attended until this year. “I can’t solve the murder. But I want to do something,” Roth said.
Melissa Plut, 28, was strangled in her Joliet home in September 2000. Her mother, Pat Plut, has attended nearly every Take Back The Night event since. Holding a sign with her daughter’s photo, Plut said she hopes the event will help stop the spread of violence against women. “It’s sad also for us to come, because this is the night we remember all the violence,” Plut said.
Vince Trevizo was found guilty of Plut’s murder and of setting fire to her home. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison in July 2003, with an additional five to 10 years in prison for aggravated arson.
“Before it happened to me, which I never thought it would happen to me, I never knew (Take Back The Night) existed,” Plut said. “Now that I do, I come and bring my friends.”
More than just one night
Take Back The Night isn’t just the annual vigil and march, Wartenberg said. The organization brought Moore’s program, StandUp, to local high schools, and donates money to area organizations that help victims of violence.
The organization is looking for partner agencies to create a court watch program, where volunteers would go to court hearings to ensure victims are treated fairly.
For more information on Take Back The Night, visit the group’s Web site, www.willtbtn.com