SAFE Walk Remembers Domestic Violence Victims

Frances Hayes
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Victims of domestic violence were remembered during Sheltered Aid to Families in Emergency’s (SAFE) annual Candlelight Vigil and Awareness Walk on Tuesday night in Wilkesboro.

The importance of having multiple copies of domestic violence protection orders for victims of domestic violence was also stressed by Kisa Posey, assistant district attorney for the 23rd Prosecutorial District. She was the speaker at the event.

A surprisingly large crowd braved the rain for the brief walk from the Wilkes Heritage Museum to Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church at 6 p.m. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the theme in North Carolina is “Hoping, Helping, Healing.”

“That is what we do at SAFE. We inspire hope in our clients that there is another way to live that is without fear, pain and uncertainty,” said Kristi Thomas, executive director for SAFE.

The nonprofit agency provides a shelter for victims of domestic violence, as well as a broad range of services to help victims get their lives back together.

“We help those who are in crisis with no other place to turn and provide a place to heal physically and mentally from the untold traumas they have gone through,” said Ms. Thomas.

The number of people seeking shelter from abuse is increasing, said Ms. Thomas. Shelter clients went up 19 percent in 2010, due largely to a 41 percent jump in the number of children staying at the shelter.

Seventy-three people were killed in North Carolina because of domestic violence from October 2010-October 2011. Fifty-seven were females, nine were children and 16 were males. None were from Wilkes County, but several were from surrounding counties.

The names of those killed and their circumstances were read by people attending the hour-long service in the chapel at Saint Paul’s. Candles were lit in memory of each of the 73 people killed this year.

Six of the people killed were innocent by-standers and three were killed at the workplace. Seven were killed even though they had active domestic violence protection orders in place. Three names were of men who were killed in either self-defense or retaliation for years of abuse. Twenty of the killers committed suicide.

“Those who have not experienced domestic violence often find it difficult to wrap their heads around,” said Mrs. Posey.

“They do not understand the damage that can be done to a person’s self-esteem or that abuse can cause you to question everything about yourself. Abuse undermines your sense of self and makes you feel unworthy of love,” said Mrs. Posey.

“Some of you have escaped situations of domestic violence, others of you are still living in them. Either way I challenge you to take what someone else intended for your harm and turn it into something good…do not allow your abuse to define you, to determine your future,” said Mrs. Posey.

“You are strong for surviving and you are worthy of being loved.”

She praised SAFE for helping abuse victims move out of their dangerous situations. After the names of the 73 victims were read, Mrs. Posey returned to the podium to talk about the importance of having multiple copies of domestic violence protective orders.

“There were several victims who were killed despite having protective orders,” said Mrs. Posey.

“Help law enforcement respond more rapidly by having copies of the orders at different places,” urged Mrs. Posey. “Keep them in your car, at your child’s school, at your workplace…have one on hand at all times.

“Sometimes law enforcement officers don’t have quick access to the orders when they get a call of domestic violence,” said Mrs. Posey.

Also participating in the service were the Rev. John Fraser, Bill Hurd, and the Rev. Scott Petersen.