St. Thomians gather to honor victims, survivors of domestic violence
Published: October 25, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - Hundreds of people converged on Emancipation Garden on Thursday night to "Take Back the Night" for the survivors of domestic violence.
The 32nd annual event began with a march from Emancipation Garden over Government Hill and past V.I. Police headquarters and Ottley Legislative Hall.
It concluded with speeches and a candlelight vigil around the gazebo. Advocates for the victims of domestic violence passed out pamphlets with information for victims or for those who may be witnessing domestic violence. The event was coordinated by the Family Resource Center and the V.I. Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council.
Advocates posted the names of 41 local people who have lost their lives to domestic violence. The V.I. Police Department responds to more than 2,000 domestic violence calls annually, and more than 100 women and 10 men have been killed in domestic disputes during the last 30 years. Three babies have been killed during domestic disputes, according to an event program.
Survivor Marsha Henry said she was nervous as she prepared to read a poem dramatizing her feelings and experiences.
"They say I'm a survivor. I say I'm a survivor in progress," Henry said. She said she describes herself this way because the healing and the struggle to come to grips with the abuse she suffered still continue.
Henry said she could not give specifics about her past situation because it remains the subject of pending court proceedings.
However, she said that, as someone who has been victimized, events such as the "Take Back the Night" do give her a greater sense of well-being and safety.
"When you are marching with the people playing behind you, it is amazing the adrenaline and the power and control that you feel that you have in your life that you may have given up at one time or another," Henry said.
Other people who attended said they did so because domestic violence has affected a loved one, a friend or a relative.
The Voices of Love Choir sang "Through It All" in tribute to Georgia Howell-Gottlieb, a choir member who was shot in the head by her child's father in 2005.
Choir member Irma George said Howell-Gottlieb kept her faith in God through the turmoil of the relationship that ended her life, but she also kept her silence about any abuse or threats she may have been experiencing.
Edward LaBorde Jr., a 43-year-old filmmaker, said he thinks that domestic violence can trigger other kinds of violence and that it is an underlying cause for some of the crime in the territory. He said his wife works as a legal services attorney, so the issue of domestic violence frequently is discussed in their home.
LaBorde said he thinks domestic violence is becoming more prevalent in the community and that "we need to be doing a lot more" to stop it.
"People who are abused in turn become abusers," LaBorde said. "Here, abuse is so much a part of everyday life. It doesn't have to be somebody hitting somebody either. It is often about power and control in other forms. I think from a lot of what I am seeing, it can start in the home and spill out into the street."
- Contact Amanda Norris at 714-9104 or email email@example.com.