VIGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Domestic violence survivors, awareness advocates, law enforcement, and clergy gathered for a domestic violence awareness prayer breakfast over the weekend in Virginia Beach.
The domestic violence ministry at Enoch Baptist Church partnered with the Office of the Attorney General to honor the lives of those killed by domestic violence and those who have survived domestic violence.
“I do have family members and loved ones who have been impacted by domestic violence,” said Tambra Bowden, host and lead minister of Enoch Baptist Church.
The unique church ministry offers survivors and families a safe space.
“The Domestic Violence Ministry is where we offer support. If a person needs to have one-on-one information given to them, and resource information. [If they] just need a listening ear, an exit strategy, and [help] providing a safe way out,” said Bowden. “We know that people have vulnerable situations. We want to have open doors for whatever that need may be, and to provide a safe place without judgment.”
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares began the breakfast with an opening statement and prayer.
“This is a crime that we take incredibly seriously. For those who are the perpetrators. We will hold you accountable,” Miyares said.
Miyares says it’s important for survivors to know “you are not alone” and “there is help available.”
“Often times, domestic violence can create such a toxic environment. The most important step is to get out of that toxic environment and getting some place safe,” he said.
10 On Your Side asked the OAG: what are some things that the Commonwealth is doing to try to crack down on repeat offenders?
“We are both enhancing penalties for repeat offenders and then we are setting up a variety of programs for victims. We have set up a victim protection program that literally, if you’re in a bad situation, you can’t testify,” Miyares said.
His prayer also extended to the law enforcement officers that respond to domestic violence calls every day.
“For so many of the domestic violence victims, in many ways they have seen the face of hell. But by being on the scene and giving them a sense of protection and security you’re giving them a sense of heaven. I want to thank you on behalf of the Commonwealth,” Miyares said.
Elected leaders like Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer and state Sen. Aaron Rouse were also in attendance.