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The St. Joseph YWCA hosted a Take Back the Night event Sunday in remembrance of victims of domestic violence as part of ‘National Week Without Violence.’ After Kelley Sybert spoke about her experience with domestic violence, the assembled crowd released more than 100 purple balloons.

Purple balloons filled the sky of Downtown St. Joseph on Sunday night to remember the victims of domestic violence.

Young Women’s Christian Association hosted Take Back the Night 2017 as part of “National Week Without Violence.” Victims, survivors, families and supporters of the YWCA came together for a balloon release, prayer, speeches and hope for the future.

Every nine seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States, according to YWCA.

Week Without Violence’s theme this year is, “Love Protects Courage Heals.”

“During Week Without Violence, we do everything we can to talk about domestic violence, how to prevent it from happening and how to deal with it when it does,” said Kim Kempf, YWCA Victim Services Director.

According to YWCA, domestic violence has a negative impact on millions of families throughout the country, and it’s something the association witnesses first-hand at their women’s shelter.

Kelley Sybert spoke at Sunday’s event about her sister being a victim of domestic violence.

“The first thing I noticed about being a victim of domestic violence is that nobody talks about it,” said Sybert. “It’s really sad that something which has such a massive impact on society is constantly swept under the rug.”

After Sybert spoke, the crowd let go of their purple balloons. Over 100 balloons floated through the sky.

Once Sybert’s sister talked with YWCA, she and her children used a safety plan and escaped from her husband. Sybert said ever since then, they haven’t looked back.

Sybert explained how she was a secondary victim of her sister’s abuse.

“My sister’s husband dictated six years of her life. Every missed family dinner, every rejected phone call, those were all an abuse of my time,” she said.

Children in abusive households who observe physical and verbal abuse are also secondary victims. According to YWCA, up to ten million children witness some sort of domestic violence annually.

Domestic violence is not an easy topic to talk about, but Sybert encourages primary and secondary victims to not stay quiet.

“Because of your courage, someday somebody could have a survival story of their own,” Sybert said.

YWCA asks anyone dealing with domestic violence to call their 24-hour hotline at 816-232-1225 or 1-800-653-1477.

Kristen Carver can be reached at kristen.carver@newspressnow.com or follow her on Twitter: @NPNowCarver