Men of all ages gathered on the steps of Columbus City Hall and heard a simple and direct message: Don’t be a bystander to domestic violence.

Rich Gold, keynote speaker at the fourth annual Men Take a Stand Walk, noted during the Thursday lunch hour that abusers and victims represent the minority in domestic vio- lence situations.

Those who are aware of such situations and say nothing — bystanders — are the majority and enable abuse and victimization.

“The point of being here today is to say we are not going to be bystanders,” said Gold, a longtime board member of Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, which hosted the event during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

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A crowd of 85 people — including women — met to promote healthy relationships in the home.

Teens, young professionals and those with graying hair were among the men who took a pledge to prevent domestic violence in Bartholomew County.

Most of the attendees first gathered at Fifth and Washington streets at 11:30 a.m. and then marched down Washington Street to show their support against domestic violence.

Several men wore black T-shirts with purple and white lettering that said “A man can prevent domestic violence.” A few people carried a large event banner with the message: “We can prevent domestic violence in our community.”

Some residents stopped to watch the walkers.

Lynne Hyatt, owner of Lockett’s Ladies Shop, and Cindy Funkey, an employee, took notice, stood outside and clapped as the group passed by.

“We’re very supportive,” Hyatt said of the cause.

Among those walking down Washington Street to City Hall were four eighth-graders from St. Peter’s Lutheran School: Robert Kanehl, Jacob O’Connor, Kaleb Walters and Wyatt Romine. They learned about the Men Take a Stand event from Turning Point employee Amy Schnapp-Brunnemer, who teaches a safe dates class at the school. The boys chose to participate in the walk as part of their community service project, which focuses on human rights, Robert said.

Afterward, Robert said he learned something from the event.

“We need to pay more attention and make sure we’re not bystanders,” he said, “and if we see something going on to do something about it.”

Mike Runnels, who is involved with security at Cummins, participated in the walk for the second consecutive year. He said men need to be aware of how serious an issue domestic violence is.

“Anything I can do or anybody else can do to model the correct behavior is a step forward,” Runnels said.

Jeff Weikert, a retired Cummins Inc. employee, participated in the walk with his wife, Maureen, a Turning Point volunteer.

Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, Jeff Weikert said.

“Domestic and dating violence is something that is intolerable. And if you don’t step up, you don’t stop it,” he said.

Maureen Weikert added, “It’s an issue that just needs to continue to be addressed.”

Statistics bear that point.

Gold told the crowd that national data indicate 1 in 3 women are victimized in some fashion around domestic violence, and 1 in 4 teenagers deal with dating abuse.

However, domestic violence and dating abuse aren’t just men’s issues but community issues because everyone’s help is needed, said Lisa Shafran, president of Turning Point. She, too, encouraged those gathered on City Hall’s steps to be active in preventing abuse.

“Your stand is a visual symbol,” she said, “but your actions must be an everyday occurrence.”

Domestic violence services

Turning Point Domestic Violence Services is a Columbus-based organization whose mission it is to work toward the prevention and the elimination of dating and domestic violence.

Turning Point serves seven south-central Indiana counties: Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson, Jennings, Johnson and Shelby.

Its shelter has a 25-person capacity. Turning Point also provides a crisis phone line, legal help and education about healthy relationships.

In 2014, Turning Point served 180 adults and 154 children, and provided 5,453 nights of shelter.

If you are unsafe, dial 911. For Turning Point services, call the Crisis/Helpline at 800-221-6311.

Turning Point’s main business number is 812-379-5575.

Event participation

Participation in the Men Take A Stand Walk since it started four years ago.

2012: 70

2013: 130

2014: 175

2015: 85

Source: Turning Point Domestic Violence Services

Honored for effort

Rich Gold, a local women’s advocate and the keynote speaker at Thursday’s Men Take A Stand Walk, received the inaugural Stand Up Award from Turning Point Domestic Violence Services for his longtime efforts to prevent domestic violence.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.