Take Back the Night in Joliet honors the dead and gives hope to victims

October 1, 2015
By Bob Okon for The Herald-News

HN photo 2015The living and the dead were honored Thursday night at Take Back the Night.

The event held each year offers hope to victims of domestic abuse and remembers women and children who have died in acts of domestic violence.

“Tonight is about courage,” keynote speaker Victor Pacini told a crowd of more than 300 people gathered at First Assembly of God Church.

Pacini, an author who was sexually abused as a boy and whose sister was killed by her husband at the age of 38, offered an upbeat message and brought people on stage to join him in song.

He urged people in the audience not be defeated by their abusers.

“We don’t blame ourselves any longer,” he said. “We can do great things. Or we can live in the pain. You decide.”

60 killed in acts of domestic violence

The evening also included very solemn moments.

The names of 60 women and children killed in acts of domestic violence in Will County in the past 10 years were read aloud during a vigil service.

“Far too many women have been killed. These are the names we call tonight,”said Karen Ward with Will County Take Back the Night before she began to read the names. “We honor the women and children who cannot be with us tonight.”

The list of names included Joslyn Woods, a 20-year-old Joliet woman who was brutally stabbed to death a little more than a year ago.

Her stepmother, Danielle Woods, was at Take Back the Night.

“It’s important to be here and to bring awareness to Joslyn and other young women, and to be with other families that have gone through what we’ve gone through,” Woods said.

“It’s an incredible turnout,” she said. “It helps families to be with other families, and it brings awareness in the community to what people are going through.”

From the unborn to the aged

Not everyone at Take Back the Night had experienced domestic violence.

Michelle Adams of Romeoville watched a video screen that listed the names of women and children killed by acts of domestic violence over the past 10 years.

“Watching this is disturbing with all the ages,” Adams said.

Some were very young. Two unborn children were listed – Ava Lucille Bromfield-Anicich and Baby Boy Abouelkheir. Some were very old: Veronica Schick, 90, and Tresa McCauley, 89.

“I think this definitely does some good for families,” said Stoney Hileman, a nursing student at Joliet Junior College. “There are people here who are family members of those who were murdered. It helps them feel they’re not alone.”

Andrea Chasteen, director of operations for the Will County Circuit Clerk’s Office, brought a $3,736 check for Will County Take Back the Night. The money was collected at a fundraiser for the organization.

Speaking up

Chasteen said the Circuit Clerk’s Office first became involved with Take Back the Night seven years ago.

“Our goal was to bring more attention to this critical issue that many try to ignore,” she said.

No one was ignoring the issue Thursday night at First Assembly of God Church. And, it was hard to ignore the “March Against Violence” alongside Essington Road that followed the vigil.

Part of Pacini’s message to women and children in the audience was not to be quiet about abuse.

Relating how he had been told to be quiet about the sexual abuse he suffered as a boy, Pacini said, “Too many kids are told you should be seen and not heard. Not any more. Too many adults are told to be seen and not heard. Not anymore.”