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Fort Dodge woman wins Miss Nationwide

Katie Cole won the Miss Nationwide title in Houston, Texas, earlier this month and plans to use the title to raise awareness about domestic and sexual assault.

In the pageant, all entries were required to have a platform they were passionate about.

For Cole, who is a Fort Dodge Senior High graduate, choosing “NO MORE – ending domestic violence” was an obvious choice.

“I have been a victim of domestic violence in a relationship in my past,” she said. “I’ve been working closely with that platform for the past year.”

She became a victim of domestic violence while she was a student at Northwest Missouri State University.

When it was happening, she didn’t know what resources were available to her.

“I never thought in a million years that the situation I was in would happen to me,” she said. “When I started going through the situation I had never had anyone talk to me about it before.”

The first time she learned about who she could talk to was when she was at a police station.

“Then they gave me information where I could go to talk to someone to get advice,” she said. “I had no idea about it.”

Now as Miss Nationwide, she plans to speak at colleges and to sororities so they know what resources are available.

“I feel like I could help people who are in college,” she said. “A lot of time people who deal with domestic violence are in that 18 to 24 range.”

Until recently, Cole had volunteered in Maryville, Missouri, where she went to school at Northwest Missouri.

“I got really involved with a children and family center in Maryville, Missouri,” she said.

Now that she is back living in Fort Dodge, she plans to get involved with the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center, she said.

It was volunteer efforts like this and her story that helped her win the national pageant, she said.

The Miss Nationwide pageant is unlike others; it doesn’t have a swimsuit or talent portion.

“This pageant was made to be different,” she said. “They want to focus on the fact that people who compete in pageants aren’t all about looks. It’s more based on the things you are doing with your titles.”

She participated in a 12-minute personal interview where she was asked about her platform and current events.

“One of the main questions they asked was about my platform,” she said. “That gave me a chance to talk about my story and what has happened to me.”

Interviewers also asked her if Iowa had a similar law to one recently passed in New York concerning sexual assault.

“I was able to talk about how Iowa had just passed the Safe at Home law for address not to be published for victims of domestic violence.”

On Jan. 1, 2016, survivors of domestic assault will be able to register with the secretary of state’s office and will be given a new address that can be used in place of their actual address.

Cole gets to raise awareness now because of her award, but she never intended on winning a pageant.

“I never competed to win,” she said. “Now that I’ve won a few titles, the amount of things that come out of it is amazing.”

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