Green River Star -

By David Martin

Walk aims to raise domestic violence awareness


September 30, 2020

Whitney Sewell was described as a sociable, driven women with dreams of being an entrepreneur, loving to plan celebrations for friends and family. She loved her family and looked forward to what the future would bring, but the domestic violence she experienced, that she kept hidden from her loved one, would end in her death.

An awareness walk in Rock Springs Oct. 17 aims to raise awareness to how prevalent domestic violence is in Sweetwater County, while memorializing a recent victim of it.

The Stand for Whitt 5K walk/run takes place noon in downtown Rock Springs, starting and ending at the Park Hotel. Whitney’s mother, Nicole Halstead, said the fundraiser will provide the funds to the YWCA’s domestic violence initiatives.

“My goal would be for something like this to go national,” Halstead said.

Halstead one in three women and one in seven men will experience some form of domestic violence, but said the abuse can be much more complicated than physical violence. She said her daughter experienced manipulation and control by her husband and while she told her friends and family she was okay, Halstead said she and others noticed slight changes in Whitney’s behavior that they didn’t realize were symptoms of abuse.

Halstead said Whitney eventually stop showing up to her home on Sundays, a day she would almost always spend with her family. Her friend Alysa Garrett said she and her fiancee went to Whitney’s home after she and her husband had gotten into an argument and discovered Whitney’s husband had taken possession of her phone, wallet and debit card when they arrived.

“That’s not normal,” she remembers saying to her fiancee later.

It wouldn’t be until after the couple was found dead in their home last year when Halstead, reading through her daughter’s phone texts, discovered the extent of the abuse she suffered from.

Halstead said those texts were an eye opener for her.

Garrett said Whitney likely kept quiet about her abuse because she didn’t have anyone she could turn to without it getting back to her husband. Halstead said Whitney also worked hard to be the glue of her family and likely wanted to find solutions to her problems as she was a person who wanted to help fix

Halstead said the upcoming event is a bittersweet one for her. While the walk memorializes her daughter’s death, she said Whitney would want other women to know about the resources people facing domestic violence situations have available to them.

“She would want other women to know about those resources,” Whitney’s friend, Caitlin Morris, said.

Morris credits Whitney for helping her out of her a relationship where she was abused.

While she said Whitney helped her out of that situation, she also thinks more resources should be available to help women in that situation, saying the only reason she was able to break free was because of the help offered after her child was involved in an abusive episode.

Garrett said women tend to leave domestic violence situations either dead or with nothing but the clothes on their back.

Garrett said she had left an abusive relationship prior to meeting her fiancee, driving to Wyoming with an arm broken in eight places after being thrown down a set of stairs.

The trio hope the event gives women who are in abusive relationships a chance to escape their situations while remembering the friend and daughter they miss.


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