At the age of 13, Patricia Zirkle is on her way to becoming a powerful advocate for victims of domestic abuse. In 1999, Patricia volunteered more than 131 hours at WoMen and Children’s Horizons, Kenosha County’s domestic abuse shelter that also provides advocacy and support services.
Due to her young age, Patricia can not provide direct services to victims and child witnesses. However, because of her inquisitive nature she does understand many of the issues surrounding domestic abuse. She is aware of the social, economical, religious, and cultural issues facing victims as well as the issues of power and control and the cycle of abuse that are present in many abusive relationships.
Patricia recognizes images that are present in the media (television, music, and movies) that often present misinformation to teens regarding health relationships. Due to this insight she recognizes abusive tendencies in the relationships that are developing among her peers and often discusses these tendencies with her friends. She is aware that this crime is under-reported to law enforcement and that providing community education outreach is vital to reaching victims. Nearly all of the 131 hours that Patricia has logged at WoMen and Children’s Horizons have been in community outreach. She is always there to lend a hand at outreach events, and she has helped with many mailings.
Her dedication became apparent during the summer of 1999. WoMen and Children’s Horizons needed many purple awareness ribbons for a large outreach event. Patricia gave up a great deal of her summer vacation to assemble the ribbons. With great patience, she assembled more than 1,400 ribbons, providing WoMen and Children’s Horizons with a needed supply. The ribbons were plentiful at the large event and there were extra to use at smaller events throughout the year and to distribute during October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Besides her dedication to WoMen and Children’s Horizons, Patricia is also involved with the Teen Task Force of the Concerned Citizen’s Coalition on Alcohol and Other Drugs Abuse and volunteers at events with them including the building of and participation in their annual haunted house. In school she is a member of the National Junior Honor Society as well as a participant of the Yearbook club and the Sign Language Club. She wants to someday be a teacher for hearing impaired children.