The soft sound of the water washing over the sand provided a soothing backdrop as the names of 132 women were read aloud, each name a victim killed at the hands of her abuser. The youngest was just 16 and pregnant with twins. Her boyfriend killed her because she refused to terminate the pregnancy. The oldest, a seasoned 87 year old woman who told her friend a few weeks earlier that she was afraid her husband was going to kill her. And he did.
As I stood among the other women gathered on City Beach for Mission Granbury’s first annual Light the Night event, I was struck by the emotion we were all feeling. Behind us, nearly 150 luminaries set in the shape of a ribbon, cast a soft but haunting purple glow into the clear night sky. MG’s Victim Services Director, Shelly Muncy, and County Attorney, Lori Kasper, shared the staggering statistics about domestic violence, both in our country and in our community.
We listened to the numbers – horrible frightening numbers - and wept silently. Some of us wept because we’ve been there, others wept because we love someone who’s been there. We were mothers, grandmothers, aunts and best friends who know too much.
We know domestic violence is not restricted to any particular population and crosses all socio-economic boundaries. We know that the number of other victims, including children, parents, grandparents and innocent bystanders is in the tens of thousands. We know the number of unreported cases would be mind-blowing.
I was encouraged by the number of teenagers who joined us for this event because statistics show that relationship violence can begin at age 13, an age when vulnerability is high and discernment about appropriate behavior is often confusing.
We all agree on this one point. It’s time to stop the violence and start the conversations to educate each other about the red flags, the subtle behaviors that we know will escalate if left alone. This is not an issue confined to adults. It’s not even an issue confined to women. As our County Attorney pointed out, almost all murders in the state of Texas are domestic violence related.
The staff at Mission Granbury and the Ada Carey Family Violence Shelter are committed to improving communication and education about domestic violence; how to recognize it and how to help someone you believe to be a victim. Get involved, speak up and make a difference.