LANCASTER — On Sept. 17, 2017, 39-year-old Amy Nelson, of New Straitsville, lost her life, allegedly at the hands of another. Since then, no person has been charged with Nelson’s death, even though the death certificate states Nelson’s death was a homicide.
For the past 13 years, Pamela Kaylor, an Academic Advisor and Associate Lecturer at Ohio University Lancaster, has held a Take Back the Night rally to create awareness of domestic violence.
On Oct. 22, Kaylor held her rally with Nelson’s sister, Abbie Vann, as a guest speaker.
Kaylor told The Logan Daily News that she knew Vann from when she was on the board for the Domestic Violence Shelter in Lancaster.
“Abbie was the speaker then and her story was told during our annual show and fundraiser,” she reported.
Every year during the rally, Kaylor invites a guest speaker to tell their victim story to the people in attendance, in hopes of bringing awareness by different perspectives.
“It just so happened that I asked Abbie this year,” Kaylor said.
The rally had multiple stops and attractions for the 80 people in attendance, all starting with an art show.
The art show was named “Through the Lens” and was showing the photographs victims took when they were involved in sexual assault and domestic violence.
Kaylor said the photographs were taken from 20 survivors as they made timelines of when they became victims.
“It tells a story of their survival,” she mentioned.
“It is empowering and very powerful at the same time.”
After the art exhibit, speakers at the University rotated the microphone to speak about the issues.
After six speakers, signs were made by everyone in preparation for their march to Downtown Lancaster.
From Lancaster’s Jobs and Family Services building, the group marched to the gazebo at the center of town. Kaylor said this was a way for them to raise awareness outside of an educational environment.
“It’s fine to have educational things at the University, but sometimes, you just have to make people listen by expanding out into the community,” she said.
The group marched for approximately 15 minutes through town with an unanimous goal. At the gazebo, candles were lit and more speakers came to the microphone with a story, reading or commemoration.
Mackenzie Yoe read “Ode to the Pantsuit”; Maria Comacho read “A Man”; and Jamie Brown read “A Man’s Pledge to End Rape.”
Before Vann came to the microphone, Judy Seifert spoke about her daughter, Stephanie Siefert, who lost her life at the hands of another in 2015. Since her daughter’s death, Judy has been a huge advocate of raising awareness about domestic violence. Stephanie was killed by her ex-husband, who then turned the gun on himself.
Vann closed the speeches with the story of Amy Jo.
Kaylor said Vann’s story was impactful to everyone due to the marginalization.
“Amy hasn’t had justice and it is an important part of the story that no one has been tried for that case and no one has been arrested,” she said. “Multiple stories of women victims are cases of women who are overlooked and marginalized, and Abbie’s sister has been marginalized. It’s not getting the proper attention.”
Nelson’s family has made numerous attempts to get ‘justice for Amy” since the incident, but no calls were answered when the family contacted the Perry County Prosecutor’s Office and local law enforcement.
The family then resorted to contacting State Representative Speaker of the House Larry Householder as an attempt to get some closure after two years.
Vann told all of this and more in her speech to get “justice for Amy.”
Vann told The Logan Daily News that it has been over two years and they were still waiting.
“Although there is so much more we want people to know, we continue to wait for law enforcement to move forward,” she said. “We have hope that this will hopefully come soon.”
The point of Vann’s speech was not only to help out her sister, but also bring comfort to those who are struggling in the same situations of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Vann said she wants people to know, that despite what they have been told or what they think, there are people and places out there able to help.
“”If someone sees, or even suspects domestic violence, speak up,” she said. “Don’t let another person lose their life; there is no reason to feel ashamed.”
Nelson’s death is an ongoing investigation.
National domestic violence statistics show:
• On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. This equates to more than 10 million women and men per year.
• One in four women and one in nine men experience severe intimate partner physical violence; intimate partner contact sexual violence; and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.
• One in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
• One in seven women and one in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
• On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
• The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500 percent.
• A study of intimate partner homicides found that 20 percent of victims were not the intimate partners themselves.
• Seventy-two percent of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94 percent of the victims of these murder-suicides are female.
• Eighty-five percent of domestic violence victims are women; 15 percent are male.