MASON CITY, Iowa - "1996. Eight women, three men, three children, two bystanders."
"Shot to death in Hampton by her on again/off again husband of 11 years."
When you hear the names and the stories during the 'Remember My Name' event, you can't help but feel emotional when you hear how men, women, bystanders, even children, died at the hands of abusers.
Each year for the last 15 years, names of those victims are marked with purple ribbons, which are then added to a tree at the Mason City Public Library.
"You look at one ribbon on the tree, and for every one ribbon on the tree, there are probably anywhere from 20-50 lives changed forever. Friends, co-workers, moms and dads, who have lost a loved one through the most violent way possible."
Mary Ingham with Crisis Intervention Service has heard many of these stories every year, and has known and worked with many families and loved ones of those who have been killed.
"The reality is, when you listen to the stories, the victims were doing everything we tell them to. So many victims had a protection order, so many victims left the relationship, and they were still killed by a violent boyfriend, partner, wife. And that's the struggle."
Because of the pandemic, this year's event was streamed via Facebook. Typically, there would be families gathering to add more names to the tree, all of them connected by the reality they're living with.
"They understand this in a way that hopefully very few people will ever have to understand."
In the fight against domestic violence, Andrew Olson with the Cerro Gordo County Attorney's office says it takes a community to be watchful, and to do that is to look for the signs.
"It starts with opening our eyes. To look to our friends, our neighbors, to look for victims and families in distress, and simply who are on hard times. It includes those struggling with substance abuse and mental health, trying to get them the treatment they need. It includes being a true friend to your neighbors and your co-workers, so you can be there for them when they need it. It also includes speaking out to what you see.
"There are people out there that we can't ignore their situation. You can't speak out when it's too late, you must speak out when they need it."
Ingham hopes that domestic violence can be eradicated completely.
"This is our dream every year, to come back and say, 'we don't have any ribbons to add.' We still want to honor the memory of the people that have died in the past, but...we've prevented it for a year. That's our ultimate goal. This is something that can be stopped in our community."
If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact the Crisis Intervention Service 24-hour hotline at 1-855-424-9133.