PUEBLO — Domestic violence has become a huge problem in Pueblo, but a local woman is now stepping up to help - raising awareness and using her business to support victims.
It's coming at a time when the city is really struggling. Law enforcement says there have been four homicides in Pueblo just this year - all with a connection to domestic violence.
For Katie Pickerel - it's something that's really impacted her and has sparked an idea for change and support.
Pickerel said, "I was distantly connected to one of the victims that lost her life to domestic violence."
Pickerel is talking about Nicole Stephenson, the 33-year-old who lost her life to domestic violence in February. While Pickerel didn't personally know Nicole she said, "I looked around and I saw my community was hurting and it breaks your heart when you start to look and so many people were rallying around her, and I wanted to help in some way, shape or form."
She's now doing that through her company - Ruth Productions. Her latest project is designing t-shirts with the words "be done." The apparel is in remembrance of Nicole and the three other people who lost their lives to domestic violence.
The meaning behind the words is "about moving on. It's about freedom and it's about letting go," said Pickerel who believes it's a perfect connection to victims of domestic violence.
"I'm going to be done with self-doubt. I'm going to be done with my circumstance. I'm going to move forward."
T-shirt sales are just beginning, but she already knows what she'll be doing with a portion of the proceeds.
"I wanted to give to the YWCA because YWCA does so many tremendous things for this community, for the women and children in this community."
Those women and children are sometimes victims of domestic violence and in need of feminine hygiene products and services to help them.
Pickerel said, "It's been a staple of Pueblo for so long as a safe haven for women and children to go when they seek refuge and I think that is incredible."
While the "be done" campaign is just getting started Pickerel has already partnered with local businesses to stock the apparel. It's a movement she hopes will grow and sheds light on an issue that's already taken too many lives.
Leaders and community members in Pueblo are in the process of putting together a symposium to tackle the domestic violence issue. We'll keep you updated on when that's happening.