October is Domestic Violence Prevention Awareness month, and Missoula’s County Attorney Kirsten Pabst helped to present several awards on Friday to individuals who went above and beyond in their efforts to assist the victims and prosecute those responsible for domestic violence.

Two of the major awards were Prosecutor of the Year and the Judy Wang Lifetime Achievement Award.

KGVO spoke to Deputy Missoula County Attorney Brian Lowney after he received the Prosecutor of the Year award.

“It means that I hope that the system is working and helping these people that have been hurt by domestic violence,” said Lowney. “It's very nice to be recognized but it is, I think a recognition of how all the people in this world have helped to support people that have been hurt by their partners in one way or the other.”

Lowney said all involved in the prosecution of perpetrators of domestic violence share in his award.

“I’m at the end of that line most of the time, so we wouldn't get to where I exist without the support of everybody else and so I think what it means is that everybody else is doing a great job to get people that have been hurt to the place where they can talk to me about it,” he said.

A new award was created in honor of the event this year. Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst presented the Judy Wang Lifetime Achievement Award to Cindy Weese, Executive Director of the YWCA.

Weese spoke of two particularly violent homicides that have occurred in Missoula that stemmed from domestic violence.

“A month ago Cheryl invited me to speak at this event, and since that time our community experienced two domestic violence fatalities,” said Weese. “Even though I've been working in this field for such a long time, the brutality of those murders staggered me. And I'm sure many of you felt that same way.”

Weese said the brutal deaths point to the severity of the problem with domestic violence in Missoula, and the importance of the work done by all those present at the ceremony.

“These heartbreaking deaths are reminders that the work we do is so very important and that our tenacity cannot fade,” she said. “Because for every life lost as a result of domestic violence, countless others are saved by the work that you all do every day, and that is why it has been and continues to be my privilege to be a part of our communities. It’s the tapestry of support for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence.”

Others who received awards included:

Nurse Practitioner of the Year: Monica Brooke

Educator of the Year: Beth Hubble

Social Worker of the Year: Lisa Tipps

Victim Liaison of the Year:Connie McDonald

Volunteer of the Year: Kate Bernot

Human Services Counselor of the Year: Tawnya Cazier

MCSO Peace Officer of the Year: Sergeant Zach Sargent

Missoula City Police Officer of the Year: Ben Groupmann

 

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