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Local events help fight domestic violence

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"Domestic violence: A local and global crisis."

This is the topic being presented at next Wednesday's 10th annual Domestic Abuse Awareness Luncheon.

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The event is set for October 20 from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center in Alexandria.

Tickets for the luncheon, which is presented by United Communities Advocating Non-Violence (UCAN), are $13 and can be purchased at Bremer Bank.

The luncheon is held in conjunction with other events to honor October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

This year's guest speaker at the Domestic Abuse Awareness Luncheon is Cheryl Thomas, a nationally-recognized women's human rights advocate.

WHO IS CHERYL THOMAS?

Thomas is an attorney and director of the Women's Human Rights Program, which she founded as the Advocates for Human Rights in 1993.

Since 1994, Thomas has traveled throughout central and eastern Europe and former Soviet Union countries and Morocco to work with local partners to promote women's human rights.

She has provided consultation and training to government officials, legal professionals and civil society groups in Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Bosnia and Morocco on best practices in legal reform on violence against women.

In 2009, she participated in a second United Nations group meeting in Ethiopia, which focused on harmful practices against women.

Thomas has published numerous articles and reports on violence against women as a human rights advocate. Most recently, she published a report entitled, Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment for the State of Minnesota.

Thomas was honored as a 2005 Changemaker by Minnesota Women's Press. She graduated from Simpson College in Iowa in 1979. After receiving her law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1983, she practiced law at the Minnesota Attorney General's office and was a partner at the law firm, Briggs and Morgan. She was an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School where she taught Women's International Human Rights from 1996 - 2002.

From 1999 to 2001, she served as executive director of WATCH, a court monitoring organization focused on cases of violence against women and children.

Thomas lives in Minneapolis with her husband, Roger Heegaard, a native of Alexandria. They have three boys.

TAKING STEPS

AGAINST VIOLENCE

Someplace Safe in Alexandria, along with Wings Family Supportive Services and UCAN, are hosting the fourth annual Taking Steps Against Domestic Violence next Tuesday, October 19.

The walk to support a violence-free community, which will be about one mile, begins at 5 p.m. at the Douglas County Courthouse. There will be free T-shirts and free food.

After the walk, which will end at Calvary Lutheran Church, there will be a presentation. This year's guest speaker is Phyllis Michaels, a survivor of domestic violence and now a public educator.

Community members are encouraged to attend the walk and the event afterward at Calvary Lutheran Church.

The Taking Steps Against Domestic Violence is held in conjunction with the Domestic Abuse Awareness Luncheon, hosted by UCAN. Both events are held during the month of October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

For additional information about the walk, contact Someplace Safe, (320) 762-1995.

CONQUERING FEAR COURSE

In conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Schutz Martial Arts Association, along with Someplace Safe, will host a "Conquering Fear of Violence" course.

The free course is a self-defense class for women designed to give them the skills and knowledge to avoid potentially violent situations in all their forms.

The class will take place Wednesday, October 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the gym at Lincoln Elementary School.

To register, call (320) 761-9008 or send an e-mail to mrjosh.waltzing@gmail.com.

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