Two walks are taking place in Rapid City this weekend to heighten awareness of domestic violence and sexual abuse. We visit with one woman whose taking part in memory of a relative and her children in order to remind the public that not all domestic violence victims survive the abuse.
When Nikkole Bostnar steps out on Rapid City’s streets this Saturday, she’ll be thinking of her sister-in-law and the woman’s two young children.
Yessenia Suarez disappeared in Florida last Fall along with 9-year old Thalia and 8-year old Elijah after an argument with her husband. By the following day, all three were considered dead by local law enforcement. Yessenia’s husband was later charged in her murder. The bodies of Yessenia and her children, says Nikkole Bostnar, still haven’t been found.
“It breaks my heart,” Bostnar explains. “It’s something that I can’t shake. It’s something that I can’ get over. It kind of stays in the back of my mind. And I’ll think about it all day and…I mean…I’ve had nightmares about it. It’s life changing.” 15
Statistics show that one in four woman nationally is a victim of domestic violence. Native American women like Nikkole Bostner suffer the highest number of sexual assaults, exceeding all other races by 10%.
But sexual abuse and domestic violence aren’t limited to any one group says Mallory Heutzenroeder, spokesperson for Working Against Violence…the group sponsoring this weekend’s walks.
“It’s still not something that anyone wants to come out and have an honest conversation about,” observes Heutzenroeder. “ And the real truth is…what we’re seeing every day here at WAVI….is that domestic violence and sexual assault occur across all walks of life. It does not matter what your economic status is, your race, your gender, what your job is like, who you are in the community.”
Notwithstanding, Kogee Clark wants women to know that there is hope after the abuse. Clark is a Muskogee tribal member living in Oklahoma. She’s also a survivor of sexual assault both as a child and an adult.
Clark says the best way to heal is to share the pain with other survivors and to let the public know that sexual abuse and domestic violence are sad realities of the world we live in – wherever we call home.
5K Peace Pro-Motion Registration 9:00am
Walk a Mile In Her Shoes Registration 11:00am
Memorial Park, Rapid City