Candlelight vigil to honor domestic violence victims/survivors

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 18, 2016

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — Nearly 10 months ago, Talisha Crowder was a junior at Pfeiffer University, a biology/pre-med major on her way to becoming a doctor. Her life was cut short when she was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend Brandon Jerron Hawkins.

Crowder’s death marked the first murder this year in the city of Salisbury. Her death is also the only domestic violence related-death in Rowan County, making Crowder one among 53 others who’ve died in North Carolina at the hands of a domestic violence situation.

The public is invited to remember Crowder and others during an Oct. 4 candelight vigil hosted by the Family Crisis Council of Rowan County. The vigil will be held at 7:30 p.m. on the front steps of the Rowan County Courthouse on North Main Street.

A survivor will speak during the vigil. Also during the vigil, five Rowan Sheriff’s deputies will display cut out figures that represent the silent witnesses — the people who have witnessed domestic violence.

“The statistics are staggering. In Rowan County, one out of three families has a domestic violence issue. Even if it has not affected you, it may affect some you may know,” said Family Crisis Council Family Coordinator Elizabeth Sippel.

Sippel said domestic violence can strike anyone from any walk of life including someone at church, work or in your neighborhood.

She said it affects people of all ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Before the vigil, attendees can get their picture taken with the “I’m Taking a Stand Against Domestic Violence” sign. These photos will be shared on the Family Crisis Council Facebook page.

Besides the vigil, the Family Crisis Council will also have the Purple Shoe Memorial at the Rowan Public Library’s main branch on West Fisher Street. The memorial will be on display throughout October.

There will be a pair of shoes displayed for each county that a person has died at the hands of domestic violence. So far, a death has occurred in 27 counties since this time last year. In those 27 counties, there were 53 victims.

Baskets containing purple ribbons will be placed throughout the community for anyone who wants to show their belief in zero tolerance of domestic violence. The ribbons are also a way to support survivors and honor victims.

If there is someone you know or if you are in a domestic violence situation, call the Family Crisis Council’s 24-hour hotline at 704-636-4718.

There are trained advocates on staff and available 24 hours a day. Advocates can help create safety plans if a victim needs an emergency escape plan.

“Sometimes people just call to ask if they are in a ‘healthy’ relationship. A lot of people are ashamed. They don’t want to believe it,” Sippel said.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.