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Domestic violence victims remembered

A half-dozen red, life-sized wooden silhouettes, unveiled Monday night, stood as a stark reminder of what domestic violence takes away from a community, as local officials kicked-off Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The metal breastplate on the front of each tells a story: Lisa Dawson of Jonesboro and Kenneth Sands of Macon were killed in Clayton County on their first date by her estranged husband. Young mother Janell Crystal Aaron died July 15, 2010, and murder charges are pending against her boyfriend. Aletha June Shepard was strangled to death Jan. 20. Her husband is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to murder.

One silhouette represents women, men and children living in fear and isolation who are ";unable to break the cycle of violence."; Silhouettes representing a child and pregnant woman were withheld from the ceremony, said Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Mosley, because she feared they could evoke too strong of an emotional response.

Volunteers Betsy Brooks McNutt, Gary Haley, Jerry Burroughs, Alan Dean and Terrance Rhymes took about two weeks to design, cut and paint the figures, using materials donated by the Lovejoy Home Depot. McNutt was one of about 30 who attended the ceremony Monday at the Clayton County Courthouse.

";I feel very strongly about domestic violence and was happy to do it and give back to my community,"; she said.

The strangulation death last year of a Henry County woman who moved to California to be near her Marine husband stunned McNutt. Kalyn Denise O'Barr Poteat, 19, was a graduate of Ola High School. Her husband, Lance Cpl. Patrick Poteat, 21, has been charged with murder in her death.

";Her death really opened a lot of people's eyes,"; said McNutt. ";I think it definitely helped raise awareness of the warning signs of domestic violence. Victims should not be afraid to get help even if they see little warning signs. Domestic violence is not always just physical abuse either.";

The ceremony was co-hosted by Mosley and Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson.