Race away from domestic violence

MinHee Kim/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Hundreds of people fought back against domestic violence Saturday. They participated in the 4th Annual "Race Away from Domestic Violence" run-walk downtown. Their mission was to raise money, but more importantly, to raise awareness.

"What I've learned is get help as soon as you can," said 12-year-old Becky Shaffer.

Unfortunately, it's a lesson she and her sisters learned the hard way. Their mother Rene and 7-year-old sister Allie were murdered two years ago by her mother's then estranged husband.

The sisters say their family suffered from domestic violence for years in silence.

"I didn't really understand what it was, but I knew something bad was going on, but I couldn't do anything because she didn't really talk to us," 15-year-old Kate Shaffer said.

On Saturday, the Shaffer family gave Rene and Allie a voice by sharing their heartache with the community. In doing so, they're hoping to prevent others from experiencing similar tragedies.

"If they know people who are going through it or going through it themselves, get help because it may start out something simple, but the longer it goes on, the worse it's going to get," added Kate Shaffer.

According to the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more victims are coming forward to report their abuse statewide. In large part they believe it's the result of improved public education and community events like the run-walk.

"There's definitely more awareness around domestic violence. There's been a rise in it, but there's definitely been more awareness," said Angela Hurley with the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Organizers and run-walk participants hope victims of domestic violence seek help before it's too late.

"These are great events. They raise a lot of awareness, but this is something we hope we don't have to do anymore," said Stephen Scott, Allie's biological father.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-799-7233.