NORFOLK, Va. - The YWCA of South Hampton Roads is hosting a community Candlelight Vigil event today to mourn, honor, and remember lives that have been lost to domestic violence, and lift the voices of survivors.
"This vigil is really important to us to reflect on the lives that have been lost, to honor the lives of those who are still with us, and to rally together as a community," said YWCA of South Hampton Roads CEO, Michelle Ellis Young.
While the event will include a candlelight remembrance for all the lives that have been lost due to domestic violence, Young says it's important to acknowledge and raise the voices of survivors.
"That's the active voice that we have here now," she explained. "Unfortunately, those that have passed, their voice ceases, but those that have survived become a tremendous asset in our fight to eradicate domestic violence [and] bring awareness to an issue that plagues our community that truly is a public health crisis. Not only is their voice important but it's a process of their healing as well."
The event is in coordination with Purple Thursday, or National Domestic Violence Awareness Day, a day to wear purple and spread awareness of domestic violence, which is estimated to impact 10 million people in the United States annually.
With someone in the United States experiencing abuse by an intimate partner approximately every 20 minutes, Young says she takes the fight against domestic violence personally and reminds others that they likely know someone who has been impacted by the issue.
"I have a daughter who was assaulted and her voice is important to the cause, her fight is important to the cause," said Young. "It resonates with me as a mother, as a community partner, as the CEO of YWCA of South Hampton Roads, as a community partner, as a pastor...it just speaks to my heart for the heart of this community."
The vigil also comes as domestic violence cases have been on the rise throughout the pandemic.
"This pandemic has revealed just so much of what's going on that traumatizing our community," said Young. "YWCA of South Hampton Roads wants to play a part in the work that needs to be done in the community to ensure that we create safe spaces for individuals to be able to reflect and to process the trauma they've experienced or are experiencing."
Tonight's vigil includes reflections on behalf of clients by YWCA leaders and city councilwomen are planned to be in attendance.
The event will also address the overall rise in violent crimes plaguing Hampton Roads.
YWCA leaders hope the vigil can be an active step in working with city leaders to combat domestic violence and an opportunity to get community members involved.
"There will be a call of action for this community. Hampton Roads needs to have a plan, and we hope to be able to sit at the table with those decision-makers," said Young.
Young also hopes to spread the mission of YWCA and make Hampton Roads a safe place for all.
"To eliminate racism, empower women, promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all," said Young. "That people can live a safe life right here in Hampton Roads. So our call is to have the community come out and support their family members, neighbors, coworkers...by remembering and reflecting."
Community members can also get involved in the fight against domestic violence through the Samaritan House's Paint 757 Purple 2021 campaign.
The Samaritan House is partnered with multiple businesses across Hampton Roads, which are offering purple products/specials to raise awareness and putting out purple boxes to raise funds.
Businesses participating in Paint 757 Purple 2021 include:
- PRA Group
- Dragas Companies
- Chock Full o’Nuts Coffee
- hear Media + Marketing
Food, Beverage and Entertainment
- 37th & Zen
- Abbey Road Pub & Restaurant
- The Back Deck
- Badass Coffee
- Benchtop Brewery
- Bodega Rio Bravo
- Bold Mariner Brewing Company
- Bratty’s Tarot
- Bubba’s Seafood Restaurant
- DJ KVDET
- Dough Boy’s Pizza (33rd, 24th & 17th street locations at the oceanfront)
- iFly Virginia Beach
- The Green Cat
- The Green Onion
- O’Connor Brewing Co.
- Sweet Art Cupcakes
- My Vegan Sweettooth
- The WAVE
Retail & Personal Care Services
- Ava Marie Salon and Spa
- Avenir Bridal
- Bhav Brigade
- Body Logic Massage & Chiropractic
- G. Patton Salon
- Kaaatwalk Hair Studio
- Orange Theory Fitness (Greenbrier)
- Stephen Allen Imaging
- Twisted Scissor’s Hair Studio
- Versus Salon
- XO Hair Lab
- Molly Maid Virginia Beach