Photo courtesy of Jennifer Thurman
Stephenville’s Stop the Silence rally is set to take place on April 20, 2021 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Jaycee Park located on 1201 N. Harbin Drive. The Stop the Silence rally is an educational event meant to inform the attendees about domestic violence, sexual abuse and child abuse.
“This year we’re going to do it more of a rally style and we’re going to do a march to bring attention to crime victims and crime victims’ rights. [The goal is to] make everyone aware that these things do happen in all communities and it happens in our community, while it’s uncomfortable [to talk about] it’s important for everyone to be aware of,” Erath County Juvenile Probation Officer and Stop the Silence coordinator, Jennifer Thurman said.
This year one of the goals for the Stop the Silence coordinators is to grow the event and reach more of the community.
“[We chose to hold the rally in Jaycee park because] that area has more traffic, more visibility so more of the community can see what we’re doing,” Thurman said. “The past few years that I have been involved [we have had] probably 100 to 200 [people attend max.] A lot of [the turn out] has been organizations, our family members and our friends. We’re just trying to get the word out more to the community so that we can get more community involvement and attendance.”
The event has previously involved high school students by allowing them to submit their artwork for the T-shirt design contest. The artwork would be displayed at the event and a panel of judges would vote for which design would become next year’s T-shirt before the event. This year because of COVID-19 this had to be changed.
“This year we’re going to do a battle of the tattoo artists who have confirmed that they are going to donate some artwork and then we’ll allow the community to vote on our Facebook page and decide which [design] they like best and that will be our T-shirt design for next year,” Thurman said. “So far, I have confirmation [that] AJ Philips with Texan Tattoo, and Mickey Garcia with Electric Ink [will be participating.] We’re still waiting on a couple other [artists to confirm if they will be participating.]”
In previous years there have also been performances of skits done by high school students but this year the focus has been switched in hopes that the message behind the event will be more prominent.
“So, this year the main thing is that we want the march to be the main focus of the event. We think that will bring a little more attention to our cause and what we’re trying to get out to the community,” Thurman said.
The event hopes to provide crime victims with much needed resources like those offered at Cross Timbers Family Services.
“I work for Cross Timbers Family Services and we provide services for victims of violent crimes meaning domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. We provide free counseling services and also legal assistance like help with getting protective orders or getting to shelter,” Brittney Owens said.
Cross Timbers Family Services is not the only organization that will be at the event this year.
“We have quite a few other organizations specifically that are designated [to help] crime victims that are involved with this event. [Some of the organizations include] Cross Timbers, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), STARRY Counseling, Paluxy River Children’s Advocacy Center, we also invite our local counseling centers [and] our law enforcement is involved; juvenile probation is involved [and] Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) is involved,” Thurman said. “Any of the organizations that want to set up we allow as long as they are providing some type of educational information to the community specifically relating to crime victims and crime victim’s rights.”
This year Stop the Silence will have pinwheels or ribbons set up to represent the number of crimes committed in Stephenville. This will be done to hopefully help get the message across that these acts are not isolated to large cities but exist in our community as well.
“We do a reading of all our crime statistics relating to crime victims. This year we’re going to do some visual representations [of the statistics of crimes in our community] so maybe that visual representation will give a better idea of what’s going on,” Thurman said.
Last year the Stop the Silence rally was canceled due to COVID-19 but this year the event coordinators have planned to host a socially distanced event.
“We still want to maintain social distancing we also will have signs encouraging people to wear a mask if they want to. I understand that some of the state mandates have changed but we still want to provide a safe environment for anybody that wants to attend. I don’t think [that the] social distancing would work as well on the march but we would encourage people to wear a mask still,” Thurman said.
This safety includes younger members of the community as they are encouraged to attend and learn as well.
“I think it could be a good educational factor for our teens, our college students, even our middle school and younger kids because some people just may not be aware of all of this that happens. We’re a small community you wouldn’t think it would be as prevalent but it’s just as [important as in] any other community. I think we’re more geared towards everybody,” Thurman said. “We’re going to try to do some family friendly things. I’m hoping to get some different entities from our community involved that would evoke fun for our kids.”
To buy a T-shirt with this year’s design or to learn more about the event you can go to the event’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ErathStoptheSilence/