Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
Dozens of students and community members gathered Tuesday evening at Barton College to give a powerful voice in raising awareness about domestic violence.
The Wesley Shelter’s annual “Take Back the Night: One Night, Never Silent, Ending Violence Together” event gave people an opportunity to remember those who have lost their lives as a result of domestic violence and to celebrate those who found the courage to escape.
“Domestic violence is real,” Lynne White, the Wesley Shelter’s executive director, said during the vigil. “It wreaks havoc in the home, the workplace, schools and entire communities. It doesn’t matter where you live, how old you are, where you go to church or how much money you make.”
Domestic violence doesn’t have to be just physical. It can be emotional, verbal and sexual.
“It’s all about power and control,” White added.
The Wesley Shelter, a United Way agency, is the domestic and sexual violence response agency in Wilson County.
ESCAPING THE VIOLENCE
One in four women and one in seven men have been victims of domestic violence. One in five teens also have reported an incident of physical violence with their dating partner.
“We are starting to see it earlier and earlier,” White said.
She said women ages 18 to 24 are most victimized.
“As a community, we must work together to educate and stop the cycle of violence,” White said, adding there is hope for victims.
“We want to celebrate and recognize that people do escape the cycle of violence and go on to live productive, safe and healthy lives,” she added.
Wilson Police Capt. Kendra Howell read aloud the names of 81 men, women and children who died in the past year across the state as a result of domestic violence.
Of those 81, more than half died as a result of a gun; 22 were murder-suicide; two were set on fire, four were stabbed; two were strangled; one died as a result of blunt-force trauma and three were classified as unknown, officials said.
Barton’s Kinsey Bell rang Tuesday as Barton organizations extinguished candles in memory of those who have lost their lives this year.
“We know what it means to care for people as a community,” said Barton College President Douglas Searcy. “We share this with our friends and our partners in Wilson. We have a voice, a powerful voice as an institution and as a community to stand up.”
White said it’s vital for the community to work together to educate and “stop the cycle of violence.”
After the event, Barton College’s track and field and cross country team led other participants in walking the Barton Mile to honor those who have been affected by domestic violence.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Each year, the Wesley Shelter plans various community events for the public to attend.
Officials will hold a new event this year called “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 at Wilson Community College’s Del Maestro Auditorium. Community members are encouraged to attend. White said the event will be similar to the one held at Barton College.
White said it’s important for the Wesley Shelter to reach out to various community partners, including colleges, because those ages 18 to 24 are most victimized by domestic violence. She said each time advocates hold these types of events, they will have someone come forward who has either grown up in a home where domestic violence was present or has been in a violent dating relationship.
“We want people to get out earlier and realize earlier they don’t have to live in a long-term relationship and stay in a situation that’s not healthy or safe,” she said. “I think more awareness and letting people know they have options is important.”
The Wesley Shelter will also hold its Silent Walk for domestic violence victims at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 31. The walk will begin at the organization’s office.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic/partner abuse or sexual assault, contact the Wesley Shelter at 252-291-2344. All calls are confidential and trained staff is available 24 hours a day.