Silent march tells stories of domestic violence victims

Silent march tells stories of...

READING, Pa. - Without saying a word, they catch your attention. A powerful and poignant sight: Dozens of people carrying silhouettes of the dead; people who were victims of domestic violence. 

"I think the figures are so powerful that they speak for themselves," said Christine Gilfillan, the chief operating officer at SAFEberks.

SAFEberks carries the silhouettes of the 57 known victims in Berks County since 2000. This year, there was a new silhouette for 28-year-old Nicole Monderewicz, who was represented by her family.

"[We're] hanging in. Hanging in there," said Karen Lessig, an aunt of Monderewicz. 

Monderewicz's killer, her fiance, Ryan Schaeffer, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and was sentenced Wednesday to eight to 20 years in state prison. Monderewicz died of head injuries after a struggle the couple had at their home on Friedensburg Road in Lower Alsace Township in January. 

"Proud to be carrying [her silhouette]," said Lessig. "Wish we wouldn't have to, but it is what I originally wanted, for her not to be forgotten, and this is the start of that."

"It is a powerful way to close out the month," said Gilfillan, "and we had activities going on all month, but this is the event we do every year as the major event for Domestic Violence Awareness Month."

The silhouette of Monderewicz is the latest to join the Silent Witness March, but SAFEberks said it hopes that, at the end of this Domestic Violence Awareness Month, this powerful movement will prevent the need to add more silhouettes.

"Their lives mattered. Their deaths matter," said Gilfillan, "and this is an issue that we all need to be aware of and take a look at."

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