An event Oct. 16 in Wilkesboro will remember victims of domestic violence in word, prayer and song.
The “Day of Unity” Awareness Walk and Candlelight Vigil will be held Tuesday, Oct. 16 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Wilkes County Heritage Museum on Main Street in downtown Wilkesboro.
Wilkes County Sheriff Chris Shew will deliver brief remarks at the event.
Participants will walk in procession about a third of a mile from the museum to the labyrinth at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, where the vigil to remember victims of domestic violence in North Carolina during the past 12 months will take place.
Those who do not wish to march may join the vigil at the labyrinth near the intersection of Cowles Street and Woodland Boulevard.
“During the vigil, we will acknowledge and mourn the 67 North Carolinians who have lost their lives over the past year due to abuse and learn from their deaths,” said Kristian Thomas, executive director of SAFE, Inc., the local nonprofit organization presenting the event.
“These victims paid the ultimate price for the violent and controlling behaviors of another,” said Ms. Thomas.
Organizers said the vigil is also an occasion for elected representatives, law enforcement personnel, judicial officials and members of the community at large to take a visible stand against domestic violence.
“We will gather as a community to celebrate those who have survived, connect with those who work to end abuse, and support programs that promote peace in our homes,” said Ms. Thomas.
The walk and vigil are part of the local observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a time to become aware that family violence affects people in our own backyard,” said Ms. Thomas.
“Countless local families are affected by the scourge of domestic violence, and there was one domestic homicide victim here in 2011,” said Ms. Thomas.
SAFE’s 14-bed shelter for domestic violence victims has been busier than ever, Ms. Thomas said. The number of nights stayed went up 32 percent last year, and shelter use has been running above average for most of 2012.
SAFE provides a broad range of free services to help victims put their lives back together, said Ms. Thomas.
SAFE helps victims obtain protective orders, and supports victims during court appearances. The agency offers individual therapy provided by a licensed professional counselor. New Choices, SAFE’s economic empowerment program, provides help with budgeting, re-education and job hunting.
“The comments a shelter resident put on an exit survey say it best,” Ms. Thomas said. “‘No woman deserves to be abused, and SAFE will help you get back on your feet.’”
SAFE is a United Way of Wilkes partner agency. For more information on the vigil call the SAFE office at 838-9169.
For immediate help with a domestic violence situation, call SAFE’s Crisis Line. Free, confidential help is available 24 hours a day at (336) 838-SAFE (838-7233). Safety planning information is also available online at www.safewilkes.org.