PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Local organizations working to prevent domestic violence and support survivors hosted two candlelight vigils on Oct. 2; one in Hampton and the other in Norfolk.

The vigils are in observance of the 42nd National Day of Unity Nighty of Remembrance, which is held annually on the first Monday in October.

The Southside event was held at the Slover Library, downtown.

Survivors of abuse, families impacted by abuse and advocates who work to end abuse all gathered at the library.

The night of remembrance shared the names of 15 victims of domestic violence from the last year in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Chesapeake, and Portsmouth. 

Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi and Delegate Jackie Glass were invited to speak. 

Navy Petty Officer Calvin Wang was honored during the event. His wife is charged with killing him earlier this year. 

“Domestic violence is dangerous for everyone, but there are incredibly dedicated people in our
community who can help. We hope someone who needs us will find us and reach out for
support,” said Larissa Sutherland, Victim Advocate with Samaritan House in Virginia Beach.

The community was invited to both events.

The Peninsula vigil was held at the Square at Peninsula Town Center on Merchant Lane.

The vigils were organized by Samaritan House, YWCA of South Hampton Roads, Help and
Emergency Response, Inc.,
The Genieve Shelter, Transitions Family Violence Services
with support from Military Family Advocacy Programs and multi-city Victim-Witness programs.

The theme for this year’s event was “everyone knows someone.”

“We see numbers [domestic violence reports] increase. We see housing becoming less affordable. We see the need [increasing] for our survivors,” said Ayana Morales, Transitions Family Violence services Director of Housing.

The H.E.R. Shelter is here to help victims in Portsmouth and Chesapeake. On average 350 people need emergency shelter each year and about 200 others need help in other ways.

“In one year, that’s how many individuals that are reaching out for services that are in need. That are experiencing some type of violence in their lives. which is overwhelming when you think, you’re just looking at two cities,” said Olivia Smithberger, H.E.R. Shelter CEO.

“Shelters need money to run that’s just a fact, there’s also events, volunteer opportunities, donation drives, call your local shelter and say what do you need,” she said. “If you are able to give, give, and if not reach out and see how you can show up for the shelter.”

If you or you know someone who may be a victim of domestic violence or child abuse, click here for a list of local and national resources.