October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Community members and Family Violence Council joined together for a Candlelight Vigil and Walk of Unity on Tuesday, October 9, 2012, at 6 p.m. at the Troy Fairgrounds Park on Monroe Street, Troy.
During the past two decades Missouri has made great strides in securing rights, protections and services for victims of domestic violence. Lawmakers and domestic violence advocates have worked tirelessly to criminalise domestic violence and marital rape, establish Orders of Protection with criminal penalties for violations, obtain funding for domestic violence services, ensure confidentiality for the safety and dignity of victims, strengthen Child Welfare Laws to protect battered mothers and their children, and enhance penalties for offenders to match the seriousness of the crime.
Yet many domestic violence victims have not experienced the promised results of such progress. As a group, they know that despite these advancements, each year 40 percent of domestic violence incidents are never reported to the police, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Some victims might not recognize their experience as a crime.
“Please talk about what you hear tonight. Someone will listen to you and come to you. They will talk to you. If they have you with them by their side. That’s the first step, from being a victim…to becoming a survivor,” says Holly Yokum, Attorney at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.
The ceremony continued through song, prayer and a walk. Each individual took a candle and lit them for those who are victims of domestic violence and those who have survived.