Candlelight vigil raises domestic violence awareness

Published 9:52 pm Thursday, October 5, 2017

To some, the month of October means celebrating Halloween or going pink for breast cancer awareness, but to others it means drawing attention to domestic violence.

SABRA Sanctuary, a domestic violence shelter, held a candlelight vigil Thursday night in front of Selma City Hall mourning those who have lost their lives to domestic violence and celebrating those who have survived it.

“Statistics show that every nine seconds someone is abused,” said Remonia Minor, a court advocate for SABRA.

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“If you take those nine seconds and you turn them into minutes, you turn them into hours, you turn them into days, into weeks, into months, into years, that is an awfully long time. That is a lot of people assaulted.”

Minor, a domestic violence survivor herself, said this ceremony means so much to her each year.

“It brings back memories because you hear the survivors talk about what they’ve gone through and those experiences,” Minor said.

“It brings the emotional part back, which is also rewarding to see people come out and support those that have lost their lives. For me, I was blessed to make it through domestic violence.”

Once the ceremony got started, Selma Mayor Darrio Melton presented a proclamation declaring October National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Selma.

Christy Barnes Smitherman, a domestic violence survivor, then shared her testimony with the crowd gathered on the sidewalk.

“For years, I lived in shame and in fear. I was manipulated to believe all of his lies,” Smitherman told the crowd. “It didn’t happen overnight. It was a slow process.”

Smitherman said it meant a lot to see people showing support for domestic violence victims and helping to raise awareness Thursday night.

“It means so many things –– hope, encouragement and just knowing the community is out there for support,” she said.

Smitherman said she got assistance from Lighthouse, a domestic violence shelter in Baldwin County, to help her get out of her situation. She said the work Lighthouse and SABRA do makes such a difference.

“It’s life-changing,” she said. “Financially, they help you get to a safe place. They’re there for you emotionally. They guide you and tell you what you’re about to experience before you even know that you’re there.”

Smitherman said she recently joined the board of directors for SABRA Sanctuary and is looking forward to helping people in the community that are going through the same thing she did.

SABRA serves six counties –– Dallas, Perry, Wilcox, Marengo, Sumter and Greene.

Smitherman encouraged anyone going through domestic violence to seek help to get out of the situation.

SABRA’s hotline is (334) 874-8711, and the national hotline is 1-800-650-6522. The shelter offers assistance 24/7, 365 days a year.