NORFOLK, Va - October 21 is Purple Thursday - a day to bring awareness to domestic violence, an ongoing and profound issue across our country. To honor the day, the YWCA of South Hampton Roads held a candlelight vigil to remember and honor those in the community lost to domestic violence.
“Years ago, I would have never thought I would be standing here before you saying, 'I survived domestic violence. I made it,'” said Neisha Himes, a domestic violence survivor and founder of the GROW Foundation.
Himes was in an abusive relationship for five years. Now, she speaks empowering others in similar situations.
"It was the bruises that I became very good at covering with makeup at work. I became an expert at going to work and saying, 'Everything is OK. How are you? How was your weekend?' Meanwhile, I’m hiding strangulation marks with scars across my neck," Himes said.
She left that relationship in 2012 and never looked back.
"We're heading into 10 years, which is a great milestone. Surviving and overcoming something like that is an everyday journey," Himes said.
The YWCA’s candlelight vigil is honoring and remembering those lost to domestic violence.
Nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. One in four women experience severe intimate partner violence.
Himes offers the following advice to anyone dealing with domestic violence:
"The first step is talk to someone you trust and let them know what’s going on. It's an embarrassing thing. You’re ashamed, but to talk to someone. Reach out and allow others to help you," Himes said.
Danica Royster, a Norfolk City Council member and YWCA board member, has had loved ones experience domestic violence. She’s helped them leave those situations.
"To be honest, it was tough. It's hard to come up to someone you love and consider to be a friend and show them they matter and have value. It also required patience and letting the person know, ‘I’m here.’"
Her advice if you have a loved one experiencing domestic violence:
"Kindness, patience and love. Continue to be there and show up for people so that way when they’re ready they have you in their corner and they are not made to feel abandoned," Royster said.
If you are experiencing domestic violence in your household, there is a 24/7 crisis hotline you can call. That number is 757-251-0144.
Related: Domestic violence cases on the rise across Hampton Roads