More than 40 people gathered in front of Harrison College on Wednesday in a solemn ceremony that each year attempts to raise awareness about domestic violence.

The names of 55 Hoosiers — victims and perpetrators — who died in domestic violence incidents over a one-year period were read during the 11th annual Clothesline Project, which shines a light on the dark side of domestic violence.

Their names, including two from Columbus, were hand-written on T-shirts displayed on a clothesline. Dormarie Santiago Rolon, 33, and Marlon A. Diaz, 39, died Sept. 17, 2015, during an apparent homicide-suicide.

Domestic violence in the past year claimed Hoosiers ranging from five weeks old to 80 years old, said Carrie Kruse, Turning Point director of direct services.

A similar visual display — T-shirts on a clothesline — was erected on the Serengeti Lawn at the IUPUC campus Wednesday, with the intention to send messages of hope and encouragement to domestic violence survivors.

So far this year, the number of domestic abuse victims helped by Turning Point in the Columbus area is up slightly from last year, said Stephanie Cunningham, director of prevention for Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, based in Columbus.

From January through August, the agency’s statistics for Bartholomew County show:

  • 287 victims served through non-residential services.
  • 140 adults and 92 children provided emergency shelter.

While there has been a drop in crisis calls this year, the number of face-to-face contacts has gone up, Cunningham said.

In its annual report, the local police department warned that “domestic violence continues to plague our community and cuts across all socioeconomic levels.”

It also cuts across factors such as gender and sexual orientation, she said.

“We have always worked with male clients, but sometimes it’s harder to reach out because of the reluctance to admit it happens to men,” Cunningham said.

One case involving a male victim occurred in spring when an intoxicated, middle-aged woman was arrested after battering her fiance in the presence of the man’s 3-year-old son.

Empowering victims

Michele Hornback spoke at this year’s event to let others know that she endured a combination of severe mental, physical and sexual abuse for more than 10 years.

The Columbus woman also talked of her experience at the 2015 event, but provided more details this year that included being held at gunpoint, knife point and being choked several times before age 30, she said.

Now 43, Hornback didn’t attempt to sugar-coat the past 13 years as part of her message of empowerment.

“Life has not always been easy, but I can certainly say I’m on a better road,” Hornback said. “My goal now is to help abused women realize this is neither the life you have to live — or were meant to live.”

One positive impact on local domestic violence is an assault-risk assessment used by Columbus police on all related arrests.

It was developed to assist prosecutors, judges and probation officers with decisions regarding bond amounts, protective orders and sentencing options.

In recognition of its efforts to help domestic violence victims, the police department received the 2015 Turning Point Bartholomew County Distinguished Service Award.

As part of National Domestic Violence Awareness month, the Clothesline Project is conducted in 41 states and five countries around the world.

Men Take a Stand event Oct. 20

The fourth annual Men Take A Stand event, sponsored by Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, will be held in downtown Columbus Oct. 20, part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities Oct. 16-22.

The march is intended to recognize men who lead by example by helping to promote and model healthy relationships regarding dating and domestic violence to colleagues, peers, and local youth.

Participants are asked to gather on the corner of Fifth and Washington streets by 11:30 a.m. The march will proceed to the steps of Columbus City Hall by 11:45 a.m.

Following the march, a brief program will commence at noon and include remarks from community leaders.

That day is also known as Purple Thursday, when the public is urged to either wear or display purple to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Pull Quote

“My goal now is to help abused women realize this is neither the life you have to live — or were meant to live.”

— Michele Hornback, Columbus domestic violence survivor

Turning Point 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.

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.


Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.