Columbus community honors victims of domestic violence with vigil march

Published: Oct. 12, 2016 at 3:58 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2016 at 5:40 PM EDT
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Columbus, GA (WTVM) - Hope Harbour, a local non-profit, hosted the "Silence Hides Violence" walk to honor all those affected by domestic violence. 

The walk along Broadway brought supporters to the government center for the afternoon vigil on Tuesday. 

Laura Ann White spoke to the crowd, sharing her own survival story of more than just physical abuse.

"I never know that it could be emotional, it could be verbal, that it could be psychological," she said.

Years have passed since Smith escaped death at the hands of her abuser who shot her at point blank range. 

"I lost 80 percent of my digestive system," White said. "I have permanent leg nerve damage, I have permanent kidney damage, but I was back at work seven months after the day I got shot." 

In front of relatives of victims and other survivors present at the vigil, she said she wants victims to know the violence they've suffered is never their fault.

"I thought that if I changed my behavior - he convinced me of this - and if I tried to change myself, he would change," White said, "and that's not possible."

As part of National Domestic Violence Awareness month, Hope Harbour and other advocates plan to use more resources to reach families across the Chattahoochee Valley.

Supporters and advocates like Rhonda Dial want to emphasize education for women and young girls, particularly when it comes to letting others know about potential violence. 

"It is a stigma that no one wants to say they're in domestic violence situations," Dial said,  "but you'd be amazed at how many people are in domestic violence situations."

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, one in five women, as well as 1 in 77 men, have experienced rape in their lifetime. 

Supporters hope Tuesday's vigil will serve as a reminder to speak up against the violence and support each other.

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