IRON MOUNTAIN — Crosses can serve a number of purposes. For the Caring House of Iron Mountain, 73 white crosses setup on the lawn of the First Covenant Church represents the 73 people in Wisconsin who were killed last year as a result of domestic violence.
That’s according to the Wisconsin Domestic Violence Homicide Report. The age range of those who died was less than a year old to 72-years-old.
“It doesn’t discriminate. Domestic violence kills,” said Cheryl O’Neil, executive director of the Caring House. “So many times we think it’s a family issue and it’s not something as a community we really have to look at, but people are dying. This is somebody’s mother, sister, brother uncle,” she added.
“The victims unfortunately have a difficult time breaking away from the perpetrators of the violence,” said Thomas Slagle, a probate judge in Dickinson County. “They depend upon them financially; they depend upon the perpetrators emotionally.”
“So many times people think it’s just female, but there are men and women and children; it does not discriminate at all,” said MSP Community Service Trooper Geno Basanese.
According to O’Neil, there are many challenges when it comes to dealing with domestic violence cases, especially when it comes to getting victims to come forward.
“It’s one of the most unreported crimes,” said O’Neil. “There’s so many more times that a person is being assaulted that law enforcement isn’t even called.”
“With domestic violence, it’s one of those things where people don’t want to contact us, but we’re here to help,” said Basanese. “If there’s ever a time that you need anything, any help, especially in the Dickinson County, Iron County area, contact local law enforcement, contact the Caring House, so we can get help.”
Local law enforcement officers, judges, and members of the Caring House held a brief ceremony Tuesday morning to honor those affected by domestic violence. The crosses will remain in place at the church as a reminder of what can happen in any domestic violence situation.
“Deaths of innocent individuals tends to almost seem commonplace now,” said Judge Slagle. “Hopefully people will notice the crosses and know that domestic violence is still very much a real problem and that we have not successfully eliminated that problem.”