DAIS shines lantern on domestic violence in light of homicide

DAIS sign

As more disturbing details emerge about the man who allegedly killed his wife before blowing up their home, domestic violence is at the forefront of many minds. Local organizations want victims to know help is out there.

Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, DAIS, is shining its “Remembrance Lantern” throughout the week. The lantern, according to DAIS, is a symbol of collective mourning and is lit each time domestic violence takes a life in Wisconsin.

“We were really saddened to hear over the weekend that our worst fears were founded and this was actually a domestic violence homicide,” Shannon Barry, DAIS executive director, said.

The lantern is now shining for Lee Anne Pirus, 50. Police believe she was shot and killed by her husband. They say he intentionally blew up their Madison home to cover up the crime.

“These situations are never easy, they’re always very tragic,” Barry said. “But we’re wanting to make sure that the community knows that we’re holding Lee Anne in our hearts.”

The domestic violence statistics are staggering. Barry says one in four women will be the victim of physical or sexual abuse at the hands of an intimate partner at some point in their life. DAIS fielded over 17,000 calls on the 24/7 helpline and are on track to take more than 19,000 calls this year.

“The reality is that we all know someone coping with this issue. They may not have disclosed to us, but every single person in Dane County is touched by this issue,” Barry said.

The lantern, visible in the front window of DAIS on Fordem Avenue, honors Pirus and serves as a beacon to others in our community living in the shadow of domestic violence.

“We really want to send a strong message to other victims living in the community that there is a place for them and that DAIS is available 24/7,” Barry said.