Family Crisis Council domestic violence vigil
By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY - When Catrena Kivett's boyfriend spit in her face and in the face of their daughter, Camelia, she'd had enough.
Kivett had endured four years of domestic violence at the hands of her now ex-boyfriend. She shared her story Monday night at the Family Crisis Council's domestic violence candlelight vigil.
Kivett spoke during the event, held on the steps of the Rowan County Courthouse, to honor the victims of domestic violence and celebrate those who've survived and advocates who fought for the rights of victims.
"This is a very big opportunity. God has opened doors," Kivett said.
She considers it an honor to be able to speak at the event.
"I said, 'God, I want to be able to help abused women,' " she said.
It was the first time Kivett has shared her story in such a large setting.
Kivett was brought up in a Christian home; her father, Ed was an evangelist.
She became involved with the wrong crowd and began using drugs.
Her ex-boyfriend was nice at first, Kivett said, but then the abuse became verbal and physical. The couple lived together in Rockingham.
He, at one point, threw Kivett against a wall, she said.
Their daughter, who is now 4 years old, had pneumonia and was in the hospital. Kivett asked the boyfriend to look after their daughter while the child was in the hospital.
"He said he had better things to do," Kivett said.
Kivett left him in 2009, and a friend told her about the Family Crisis Council.
Kivett's parents, Ed and Tammy Kivett, went to Rockingham and brought their daughter and granddaughter home.
She stayed at a local shelter for a time and now lives at the Eagle's Nest, a transitional housing program offered through Rowan Helping Ministries.
Catrena is graduating in May with a degree in medical office administration.
"I'm going to continue for my daughter because I know I am worth it," she told the crowd.
The temperature hovered around the mid-40s during the vigil, but the cold didn't keep people away. Many of those in attendance had on coats, hats, gloves and wrapped themselves in blankets.
Organizers had a 69-second moment of silence to remember the 69 people who died in North Carolina since October 2011 at the hands of others in incidents of domestic violence.
Salisbury Police Detective Tyesha Harden paid homage to fellow officer Wiley Lamm, who died in September after a long battle with cancer. Lamm was the victim's advocate at the police department and was a supporter of the Family Crisis Council.
"It is a heart-wrenching experience to see the love of the Rowan County community and seeing all those who observe and serve victims of domestic violence," said Renee Bradshaw, Family Crisis Council executive director.
Xavier Ingram, 17, has seen domestic violence from many perspectives. Ingram saw domestic violence as she was growing up, had a boyfriend who verbally abused her, witnessed a friend who was the victim of abuse and saw another friend's grandmother die at the hands of her abuser.
A student at Salisbury High, Ingram is a part of a peer mentoring group at the school called 'Me Time.'
She considers herself one of the lucky ones.
"I got out before anything physical happened," she said.
The problem started when the boyfriend began controlling her. While she was on a trip to visit family in Louisiana, her boyfriend told her if she didn't arrive back home in Salisbury he would drag her back by her hair.
Ingram ended their relationship after that incident.
"It was too much," she said.
Ingram and her cousin saved a friend who she felt would've been beaten if the two had not intervened.
Ingram's friend lost her grandmother, Joan Marie Lark in January. Authorities say Lark was killed by her estranged ex-boyfriend, Gary Cureton. She was beaten to death with a baseball bat.
Ingram attended last year's vigil."It's always important for me to come back to pay my respect to the people who've lost their lives," she said.
Five young women with Livingstone's Girls Educated and Motivated for Success (G.E.M.S.) performed an inspirational dance to gospel singer Marvin Sapp's "Never Would Have Made It."
"We want to expose them to what goes on in Rowan County," said G.E.M.S. adviser, Tracy Cox, who is also a supervisor with the college's public safety department.
"It's a heartfelt moment. It's nice to see a neighborhood come together, to work together, to stop violence," said Jennifer Hill, a G.E.M.S. member.
Brandon Newsome of Concord performed Josh Groban's "You Raised Me Up" and guitarist George Mobley also performed.
Family Crisis Council is a Rowan County United Way member agency.
For more information about the Family Crisis Council, call 704-636-4718.