PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and, Wednesday night, a brave woman talked about surviving not one, but two abusive relationships at a candlelight vigil in Pitt County.
The vigil, which was held at the Pitt County Courthouse, honored the nearly 50 men, women and children who fell victim to domestic violence in the county since the year 2000.
With many family members in attendance, the names of the victims were read aloud, as the more than 75 people in attendance stood to honor their memory.
The annual event, which this year was entitled "Breaking the Silence... Once Again," emphasized the message that domestic violence does not act alone and that the cycle of abuse can not, and will not end until the community takes action.
Speaking about her own experience of surviving domestic violence, DeCora Mealing told the crowd, "Domestic violence is not okay. You don't get a chance to do what you want, when you want and hurt people that have only been there to look out for you and love you."
"It's so empowering to hear somebody that has gotten through, and can speak on behalf of those that don't have that power or motivation to get out yet," says Chelsey Waters, a victim advocate with the Lethality Assessment Program, which works to prevent domestic violence homicides and serious injuries.
The vigil also featured a number of speakers from several branches of law enforcement including the Greenville Police Department, as well as the Pitt County Sheriff's Office.
Pitt County Commissioner Glen Webb was also on hand, bringing with him a declaration from the county declaring October Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
"I'm proud to be part of a county that understands that domestic violence is a disease in our community, in our state and our nation," he says. "And it is in that spirit that we passed a proclamation."
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can reach out to the Center for Family Violence Prevention or the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-SAFE (7233).