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Worth every step

These students from the Alexandria Technical and Community College were happy to show the T-shirts they received for Tuesday’s walk. (Echo Press photo by Al Edenloff)1 / 3
A crowd of about 200 people walked from the Douglas County Courthouse to Calvary Lutheran Church for the “Taking Steps Against Domestic Violence” event. (Echo Press photo by Al Edenloff) 2 / 3
Many of walkers carried signs that encouraged people to break the cycle of domestic violence. (Echo Press photo by Al Edenloff)3 / 3

The gloom, the cold, the rain and the wind only stiffened the resolve of the 200 people who gathered to walk in Alexandria Tuesday.

The topic, stopping domestic violence, was worth every step.

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The seventh annual “Taking Steps Against Domestic Violence,” hosted by Someplace Safe and United Communities Advocating Non-Violence (UCAN), started at the Douglas County Courthouse and ended at Calvary Lutheran Church.

Walkers of all ages bundled up against the cold, many of them wearing the green shirts proclaiming the event. Some held signs with messages like, “Hands are for helping, not hurting,” “End domestic abuse” and “Love shouldn’t hurt.”

With the walk completed, the participants went into the church to hear a compelling story from Clara Moyle, a domestic abuse survivor and volunteer with UCAN and Someplace Safe.

Moyle noted that domestic violence is a best kept secret despite the fact that it affects one in four women and 5 to 10 percent of men.

She recounted the nearly 30 years that she was a victim of violence in her own marriage.

Moyle said her relationship started out as she’d dreamed it to be. “He said all the right words, that I was beautiful, sweet and kind,” she said.

The compliments hit home with Moyle, who was bullied at school and had low self-esteem.

The first signs of trouble popped up about two and a half years into their relationship. He broke things and had a hot temper. But he didn’t physically hurt her. At first.

A few months after their first child was born, he grabbed Moyle by her hair and started to beat her. He didn’t give a reason why. She blamed herself.

After the abuse, she kept it a secret. She didn’t dare tell her parents, who had a loving relationship of mutual respect, and she was too ashamed to tell her friends.

Through the birth of two more children, the abuse continued. They tried counseling but it didn’t seem to help. On the weekend they brought their premature baby son home, her husband attacked her twice. He refused to even hold the baby.

Moyle took her children and moved to another town but within a week, her husband came to see her, promising to stay in counseling and not hurt her anymore. She gave in and returned home but things didn’t get any better.

Her husband still couldn’t control his anger. He told her that he felt like he was in a box. He hated Christmas, throwing Christmas cookies and the tree out of the house.

The years went by and the beatings went on. “I wanted to die,” Moyle said. She found comfort and strength by remembering to love herself. “I wanted to keep living for my children, my parents and myself,” she said.

She stayed in the relationship out of fear. One time, her husband threw a can of scalding water at her face. Her hair protected her from burns but she needed four stiches.

Moyle went back to school and started studying fashion management. He destroyed all her books.

She finished school and landed a job working at a department store. It only made her husband jealous. He would show up at her work and fly into a jealous rage if he saw her waiting on a male customer.

Yet, they stayed together, after he suffered a heart attack in 2005 and after their oldest son, Carl, was killed in 2006 by an inmate at the Sherburne County Jail where he was being held because he didn’t have proof of car insurance.

Then in May, 2008, her husband suffered another heart attack, his fourth. Moyle tried to save him with CPR and called 911. He suffered brain damage and was put on life support. After talking it over with her children, Moyle made the decision to end the life support.

Moyle couldn’t believe she was free from the violence. She waited every day for him to come through the door at home or at work.

It was a lonely struggle to continue on with her life. She made a breakthrough when she prayed to God, asking him to forgive her husband and help her move forward with her life.

Her prayers were answered. About a year ago, she met someone special, someone who respects and loves her, and today, they have their own business, Setterland Fields Bird Dogs. “God sent me the right person,” she said.

Moyle ended her speech by telling the walkers: “If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.”

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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