‘Shine a light’ walk honors woman who died from domestic violence

The women hope that by shining a light on domestic violence, they’ll be an inspiration to victims.
Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 8:36 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The family and friends of a woman who died last year gathered on Friday for the “Shine a Light on Domestic Violence” walk.

Melissa Howell Back died in a murder-suicide in March 2020. She was also a domestic violence victim.

Back’s mother, Anne Randall, says the event was bittersweet. She also says if it helped save one person, it was worthwhile.

“She was my best friend,” said Melissa Wills speaking before the attendees. “She was a daughter, a mother, an aunt and a very important part of the community.”

Wills says there weren’t many signs on the surface of what was going on underneath before Back died.

“If you met her, you would’ve never known what was going on behind the doors to her home,” Wills said.

Wills and Randall describe Back as being full of joy, both among friends and family and in her work as a social worker.

Domestic violence survivor Sarah Butcher says hearing Back’s story gave her the strength to leave her abuser. Butcher quickly became close with Randall afterward.

“She was really able to be there for me and support me during that really hard time when we first got out,” Butcher said. “So then, when she wanted to put this on and asked if I wanted to be a part of it, that was a no-brainer.”

The women hope that by shining a light on domestic violence, they will be an inspiration to victims.

“We just hope that by raising awareness and trying to take away the shame and the stigma, we’re able to give one person the strength to get out of their abusive relationship,” Wills said.

Proceeds from the walk will go to the Melissa Howell Back Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarship will help an at-risk student in the Kenton County School District, where Back was a social worker.

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