I am a survivor.
Those were the words of the keynote speakers at Thursday’s candlelight vigil held annually by Onslow Women’s Center to raise awareness and remember those who have lost their lives due to domestic violence.
Daryl Clinton and Andrea Robinson are survivors of domestic violence. Each turned to the women’s center for help and they encouraged anyone else who may be a victim of domestic violence to do the same.
Clinton experienced years of verbal abuse by her husband that at one point led to a physical threat with a knife.
“The day I walked into the office I was drained,” Clinton said.
She said the support and decision to seek help made it possible to get out of the abusive situation.
“I knew I’m going to make because someone believed in me,” Clinton said.
Clinton said victims of domestic violence may be scared or embarrassed or have other reasons from keeping them from leaving their situation. She said the help is there.
“You are not alone,” she said.
Holding her son in her arms, Robinson told of the physical abuse by her husband and a situation that led to her temporarily losing custody of her son.
“Here I am with my son; I am a survivor,” she said.
Robinson said Onslow Women’s Center was there to help when she needed it.
“They will encourage you. They will be there for you,” Robinson said.
Gary Danford, co-executive director of Onslow Women’s Center, said the center has been providing crisis intervention to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault for more than 30 years.
The women’s center operates a safe house and a 24-hour crisis line at 910-347-4000.
“My goal is for us to be able to close up shop,” Danford said before the ceremony.
There were 128 women and children who stayed in their safe house over the past year and more than 400 cases providing services to women in 2017.
Across North Carolina there have been 77 victims who have lost their lives to domestic violence over the past year. T-shirts decorated with messages supporting the fight against domestic violence included the story of each victim.
Onslow County resident Ashley Grant came out to see one of her sons perform with the school choir participating in the program and was touched by the number of t-shirts that were hanging around the site at Riverwalk Park.
“They need to know they can get out (of an abusive situation),” said Grant.
Brittany Odum, a deputy clerk with the Onslow County Clerk of Court office, walked down the line reading the stories of each victim prior to the program.
Odum said she’s encountered domestic violence in her life and sees the cases of the victims of domestic violence that have come through their office.
“We want to come out and show our support and let them know there are people and resources out there to help,” Odum said. “It is important that they know they can get away from domestic violence.”
Reporter Jannette Pippin can be reached at Jannette.Pippin@JDNews.com or 910-382-2557.