ROCKINGHAM — Thirty-six victims of victims of domestic violence from across North Carolina were remembered in front of the old Richmond County courthouse Tuesday evening.
New Horizons Life and Family Services provided each attendee of its annual domestic violence vigil with a white rose bearing the names of the victims in each case.
The 36 victims — killed between Jan. 1 and Oct. 6 of this year — were from 26 counties. While there were no cases from Richmond County, neighboring Moore and Scotland counties have each had one.
Nearby Robeson County has had two, with the listed date being when the victim’s body was found, not when the incident happened.
Eight of the counties had two victims and Davie County had three — all involved in murder suicide — and included the youngest victim, an eight-month-old child. The oldest victim was a 79-year-old woman who was reportedly killed by her husband of the same age, which was also a murder-suicide.
In most of the cases, the alleged perpetrator was a spouse, partner or ex-partner. However, in one case, a woman was reportedly killed by her daughter’s ex-partner.
More than half of the cases involved a firearm as the weapon, although several victims were reportedly killed with a knife and there are six cases with the weapon listed as unknown.
After reading the names of the victims and alleged perpetrators, those holding the roses walked up and placed them into one of two vases set up at the bottom of the courthouse steps.
However, as Teshika Wall, court advocate and community educator, said, domestic violence is more than physical.
“The psychological impacts of domestic violence can involve a lifetime of healing and span many generations,” Wall said.
“We don’t talk about domestic violence, therefore domestic violence thrives in silence,” Wall continued. “To support survivors, honor those who have lost their lives and to prevent domestic violence in the future, we all need to normalize talking about it openly and candidly.
“We need to change the conversation around domestic violence and it takes us all to do that.”
Prior to lighting the candles and marching a downtown loop, Executive Director Karen Bostic read aloud “I Got Flowers Today,” a poem by Paulette Kelly about a victim of domestic violence who first gets flowers from her partner following an argument and ultimately gets flowers at her funeral.
In the last fiscal year, New Horizons staff say they provided 5,137 services to 229 individuals in Richmond County. Those free and confidential services include a 24-hour crisis line, counseling and accompaniment to court or hospital.
For more information, contact New Horizons at 910-997-4448 or visit newhorizonsagency.com.
See more photos below.