Two lives were lost Christmas Eve morning 2012 — a local couple lost at the hands of domestic violence.
Two young people, both in their early 20s, lost their lives. They were children, they were friends — they were mother and father to their toddler son. The lives lost in this tragic shooting remind us of what domestic violence takes away from all of us.
Every April a gathering of local residents and supporters brings the message home in another form. This year's annual march and candlelight vigil in recognition of National Crime Victims' Rights Week will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday. The march will lead community members from Bonner Park to the Baldwin County Courthouse on Wilkinson Street where family members touched by domestic violence will speak on those they've lost.
The event is a way to honor the memories of the victims, but it is also a means to offer a way out to those who've had their cries for help silenced in the past. It's a way to remind them that there is community support and resources available to help.
There is another way.
In 2011, there were 1,200 reported cases of domestic violence in Baldwin County. One in every four women in America at some point in their lifetimes will experience domestic violence. The highest percentage of domestic violence victims are women, and yet, it is statistically one of the nation's most chronically underreported crimes, according to a report by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Too many voices are silenced through this violence.
Children often see first-hand the abuse and are more likely to contribute to the vicious cycle as they become adults. Georgia ranks among the top tier of states where domestic and family violence is most likely to occur. That abuse takes many forms: emotional, psychological, physical, sexual and financial. Such violence affects all family members - not just spouses or partners.
We must remain vigilant as a community to overcome these acts of violence that perpetrate the community.
Find ways to support efforts to victims of domestic violence - in your neighborhood, through a church, a local nonprofit, on local college campuses or throughout the community. It can be done but only through efforts made to raise awareness and community advocacy and support.
Too many lives, too often young lives filled with potential, have been lost.