In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, New Horizons Life & Family Services held its annual candle light vigil on Monday. Nearly 100 participants braved the cold and rain to gather at Rockingham’s Harrington Square, and marched to the old courthouse in remembrance of those who lost their lives due to domestic violence.
According to Crystal G. McLendon, executive director of New Horizons, in North Carolina 49 individuals have died since January of this year due to these circumstances.
“The goal here is to bring awareness,” she said. “We want to let people know that domestic violence is still an issue — nationally and locally. It needs to be remembered. Our goal is to let people know that domestic violence still exists — that there are still victims out there. We can all play a role in helping someone, and it is your business if you hear something going on next door — don’t hesitate to call the police. It’s a community-wide issue, not a personal issue.”
On Monday afternoon, supporters made their presence known as they carried candles and hovered together in the cold.
After an invocation and special singing inside the old courthouse, several white doves were released into grey skies in honor of those that had fallen as a result of domestic violence.
Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. addressed the crowd at this year’s ceremony.
“Make no mistake,” he said inside the courthouse, “one life lost is one too many.”
Clemmons shared his experiences as a law enforcement officer dealing with domestic violence, claiming that it was not something that should ever be taken lightly.
“These officers in the room, they don’t look at domestic violence as a family issue or a personal issue,” he said. “They look at it as one of the most serious and important issues out there … It’s happening every day. Someone is being abused right now, at this very moment.”
The sheriff asked that people do not adopt the mentality that it is not their business.
“It might not be today, but it could be tomorrow,” he said.
Following Clemmons’ speech, several participants lined up to read the names of the 49 individuals that had perished due to domestic violence.
For more information about domestic violence or related issues, contact New Horizons at 910-997-4840 for the crisis line, or 910-997-4448 for the business line. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.