HAVEN vigil brings victims into the light

Oct. 29, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Despite recent months of organizational uncertainty, HAVEN in Lee County will hold its annual candlelight vigil to honor domestic violence survivors tonight.

The hour-long ceremony, beginning at 6 p.m. at the HAVEN facility, located at 215 Bracken St., is meant to celebrate survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, said Interim Executive Director Susan King.

"This event is open to the public, and we'd love for everyone to come to show their support for victims and survivors," King said.

These survivors, she said, need to know the community cares for them.

"For me it's recognition of how strong people are who survive and are able to make a new life after abuse," King said. "It's also time to acknowledge it is still a problem. We've had 44 (domestic violence-related) deaths in North Carolina so far."

These number of deaths this year is lower than previous years, but the numbers are still too high, she said.

"It's an ongoing issue," King said. "It shows why HAVEN is so important to this community."

There will also be a presentation about how HAVEN is fairing after it ceased virtually all of its services — including its 29-bed shelter — in August after a string of financial and managerial woes. The office is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and there are trained advocates available to talk to victims of sexual abuse, she said. The organization is now offering its court advocacy program, and its 24-hour hotline is available.

Lisa Robinson, lead instructor for the paralegal program at Central Carolina Community College, is scheduled to speak during the vigil and said that she and her students have worked with HAVEN during the last decade.

"I hope it draws awareness that this community needs HAVEN back up and running like they were before they had to limit their services," she said.

Many women and children are unable to live their lives, leave their homes or have any independence because of domestic violence and abuse, said HAVEN Board of Directors Chairman Carol Carlson. Sometimes the best way to draw attention to this problem is with a quiet gathering so people can "concentrate on the voices who can't speak for themselves."

"As we go through our daily lives, we need to remember there are people living in fear and living in the dark," Carlson said. "This is an ongoing problem, and we have this problem here."

WANT TO GO?

  • What: HAVEN in Lee County vigil
  • When: 6 p.m. today
  • Where: Haven complex, 215 Bracken St.
  • More information: 919-774-8923