Survivors and loved ones of those affected by domestic violence will come together this month to reflect and remember.
The annual victims and survivors of domestic violence vigil, sponsored by the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center, will be held on Oct. 23 at St. Paul Lutheran Church.
The vigil, which is open to the public, embraces both people who have survived domestic violence and the loved ones of those who didn't, according to Marie Harvey, assistant director and counselor at D/SAOC.
"It's a time to reflect back and remember the women, men and children who have been victims," Harvey said. "We're also honoring those who survived and lived through it, and who continue to live through it."
Harvey said the vigil will feature a guest speaker, music and a candle-lighting ceremony. As in previous years, there will be shields placed around the church with the stories of people who were killed by violence, she said. Those stories will be read during the vigil.
One difference between this year's vigil and previous ones is that this year's speaker, Robyn Caldwell, is a domestic violence survivor.
"To me, that's more powerful to hear an actual survivor speak," Harvey said.
Caldwell said while this is the first time she's spoken at a vigil, she's given presentations before.
"I've talked at assemblies and have spoken to a violent offenders class," she said. "I've also talked to women in drug rehab and given interviews."
Caldwell will talk about her own story at the vigil, and how the experience shaped her life.
"It'll be about how to help others through violence," she said. "It's about helping others. I survived what I survived for a reason. God has a plan for me."
Vigils like this one D/SAOC is sponsoring are important for those impacted by violence, she said.
"They provide comfort to those who have lost loved ones to domestic violence," Caldwell said. "It raises awareness that it happens around us and it gives survivors support to keep themselves out of recurring situations."
Harvey agreed that it can be good support for people who have experienced violence.
"There are so many people going through violence," she said. "And it's such a powerful night."