Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Victims of violence find power in speaking out

To the editor:

I really appreciated the Gazette’s January articles by Larry Parnass about Yoko Kato and the long process she has gone through to seek justice and healing in the aftermath of the murders of her daughter and grandson, victims of domestic violence 20 years ago. Domestic violence occurs and gets reported so much it threatens to numb us.

The stories put a human face on Sherry and Cedric, and helped the reader to see them­ — and Yoko Kato­ — as people, not just statistics. Readers also got a sense of how she fought back against overpowering grief and anger in the aftermath of the murders. Her weapons were her activism; her speaking out educated others about domestic violence and devastating effect it has.

I was honored to have been at a presentation by Kato described in the Gazette, accompanying veterans from the Veterans Education Project (VEP) who were sharing their stories about the lasting emotional impact the violence of war has on survivors.

The audience, all boys, were in state custody. Many had committed crimes of violence. A sometimes-emotional discussion with the speakers followed. The boys’ post-presentation feedback, shared with me by the therapist working with the boys, confirmed what I’d observed: Kato got through to her audience, pushing them to think critically about the consequences of acting violently, and to consider alternatives.

I hope that Yoko Kato’s story­ — and the recent stories about the relatives of the victims of the Sandy Hook shootings speaking out­ — empower and inspire other who are survivors of violence, or who have lost loved ones to violence. Their stories have the power to open eyes and minds. And, as one of the combat vets who regularly speaks with the VEP says of sharing his story, “pain shared is pain halved.”

Rob Wilson


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