On October 8, 2013, as in years past, we came together to honor the victims and survivors of domestic violence and to remember those who lost their lives to this devastating and destructive crime at our Candlelight Vigil.
Individuals who lost their lives in our county in the last six years stood as silent witnesses to how dangerous this crime is. Those represented included: Wanda Atkins, Minnie Carr, Casey Conley, Kimberly Davis, D. J. Elrod, Linda Johnson, Shannon Lawrence, Darlene Norrell, Lindsey Norrell, Maricruz Sandoval, Victor Sandoval and Julia Shaw.
Thankfully, there were no domestic violence deaths in Cherokee County this year. Why is that? Is it something that we are doing differently this year? Did something make a difference in someone’s life that prevented her death? Did she call out for help and was able to seek safe shelter? Did she obtain a protective order? Was the abuser arrested and the system held him accountable? Did her faith community support her which gave her the courage to leave? Did a neighbor speak out and let her know that there was help? Or was it simply chance?
CFVC Executive Director, Meg Rogers, remarked that we may never know the answers, but that we do know that in the last 12 months:
There were 3,635 Domestic Violence calls to Law Enforcement for help.
That these victims represent every race, religion, nationality and social position in this county and that they are overwhelmingly female.
That 962 victims sought services at the Cherokee Family Violence Center.
That CFVC sheltered 97 women, children and men for 4,213 nights in our safe shelter and were at 96% capacity for the year.
That CFVC assisted 251 women and children with affordable housing.
That CFVC assisted 193 victims through our Multicultural Program.
That CFVC assisted 449 victims though our Legal Advocacy program with protective orders, immigration assistance, custody cases and divorces.
That CFVC made 30 presentations to 1,059 individuals through Cherokee County about Domestic Violence and the effects on victims and our community.
That CFVC developed 877 safety plans with victims and their children.
And that CFVC provided a combined 20,023 services to these families.
Is that what made the difference? Did we save lives? We would like to think so, although we may never know. The point is that Domestic Violence is the leading cause of non-accidental injury in the United States. It kills 1,500 victims every year in this country and that we all have a role to play: to speak out against it, to support victims as they navigate the almost impossible choices to become safe, to teach our boys to respect girls, to teach our girls that they deserve better, to change the cultural discourse that violence, jealousy, and control is not love. We all have a role in stopping this violence for this generation and the next; to speak out, to stand up, and to say “no more!” We also need to let our elected officials that we need strong laws that are effectively enforced. And that we need funding to help families heal.
We would like to say thank you to those that attended this year’s event, Pastor Jamey Prickett of Liberty Hill United Methodist Church, A Dove’s Nest, Fastsigns of Canton, Women of Worship of True Life Ministries, survivor speakers Ali, Alicia, and Darlene, Ruby Bean, Lieutenant German Rivas of the Canton Police Department, and our keynote speaker, Judge Jackson Harris. Special thanks go to the CFVC Interns that organized this year’s event: Brooke Larson, Kaytie Markfort, Lauren Drake and Rosie Rippe.