Men, women, and children gathered at First United Methodist Church to honor the people who lost their lives at the hands of domestic violence. On Monday evening, St. Jude House held it's 23rd annual Candlelight Vigil to raise awareness, break the silence, and end domestic violence.
The candles illuminated the pathway, each one placed in a white bag with the name of a person who was lost in the Lake Country area due to domestic violence. Survivors, families. and the community came together to support one another through the event.
"We came to be a part of the solution; we want to let them know that there are resources and help out there," said Fair Haven volunteer Lori Estes.
Around a single tree, many colorful posters lay scattered around it. The community made the posters to speak for them during their silent march around the church.
"The posters will be used during our silent march. they are expressing that one and four women will be a victim of domestic violence in their life, and we're trying to change hurt into hope," said Val Lay, director of development of St. Jude House. "One in four women and one in seven men will be affected by domestic violence from an intimate partner in their lifetimes. Domestic violence affects not only them but their children, families, and friends."
The silent march represented courage, strength, and the hope to end the violence. Afterward, Denise Recker, an inspiring woman who survived her own battle with domestic violence, addressed the crowd. Recker has been a volunteer at St. Jude House, and she aims to help everyone in any way that she can.
"I have a heart for women, a heart for the healing of women. A lot of our struggles in adulthood started in childhood. It molded us, and it took on our self-esteem of what we thought we were worth and we go through life in that same pattern," said Recker. "We are the ones that need to break the cycle; you have to be the one to break it for yourself, your children, and your loved ones. We have to say it stops with me."
People who have lost their family spoke about the impact of domestic violence, and the pain that it caused them to lose a loved one. Tears silently roll down the onlooker's cheeks as others recounted their stories of love and loss.
St. Jude House hopes to create a new beginning for anyone who is going through abuse. They provide victims with job training, employment. a 24/7 crisis hotline, housing, and many other services. If you want to learn more about their services, please visit stjudehouse.org.