Victims remembered during candlelight vigil Thursday
By By Lisa Tindell
Candles burned Thursday night in Bell Chapel at First Baptist Church in honor and remembrance of those who have suffered at the hands of violence.
The Escambia County Domestic Violence Task Force hosted the candlelight vigil to honor those who have survived domestic abuse and to remember those who did not.
Leigh Shaughnessy began the evening by reading a poem that focused on just how many people suffer at the hands of loved ones.
"A woman died today, someone you know, someone you sat beside in school," Shaughnessy said. "There are no boundaries for who may suffer at the hands of someone they know. It could be a parent, a sibling, a spouse or friend who causes such pain and sometimes death."
Also during the evening the more than 50 people present for the vigil stood and made a pledge of commitment to acknowledge the pain and suffering as well as work for safety of the community.
Renee Cain, victim advocate with ECDVTF, recited staggering numbers for the cases reported in Escambia County.
"We received so many calls at our office with reports of domestic violence that it may seem hard to believe," Cain said. "We have taken 812 calls from January through September of this year alone."
Those numbers are only the calls that come through the office and do not begin to give details on just how many calls are not made by victims, Cain said.
Statistics Cain gave during her time at the podium indicated 319 offenses had been reported with 116 arrests to this point in 2006.
"Of those reports that resulted in an arrest, there were 148 abusers who are known to have inflicted violence against their partners," Cain said.
Wanda Fowler, who is a member of the ECDVTF, and the Poarch Creek Indians, formerly worked with Penelope House in the Mobile area.
"There have been five deaths in Escambia County in the last five years," Fowler said. "There were two deaths in 2000, two deaths in 2001 and one death in 2004. These women didn't have to die. Domestic violence hurts the victim, their families, their friends and their communities. We must take steps to stop domestic violence."
The vigil ended after musical selections by April Hamric and a prayer presented by Cain.