VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s an issue that no community is immune to: domestic violence.
On Monday, dozens of people gathered for a vigil in Newport News to remember victims lost to domestic violence in Hampton Roads.
The theme of the event was “Remember My Name” and the focus was on breaking the silence surrounding domestic violence.
It can happen to anybody, and it’s happening right in Hampton Roads.
“Domestic violence continues to be a problem in the city,” said Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew.
“It is still that taboo subject that we don’t talk about, what happened in the home stays in the home. That person’s relationship is none of my business,” said Sanu Dieng, Exec. Director of Transitions Family Violence Services.
Transitions Family Violence Services along with the Peninsula community are saying no more.
Advocates, survivors and loved ones of victims came out to City Center, pledging to put a stop to domestic violence.
“We have a collective responsibility to speak up and to say something,” Dieng said.
It’s something Lois Sparber knows all too well. She’s a 7-year survivor herself.
“He had a gun but he didn’t shoot me with it, but he took his steel toed shoes and crushed my face,” Sparber said.
Although difficult to look back on, Sparber now advocates for others in troubled relationships. She hopes sharing her story will encourage them to speak out and leave.
“It’s not their fault. It’s nothing that they did,” Sparber said.
“If a victim is experiencing domestic violence, it doesn’t matter male or female, there’s no shame in that,” Drew said.
Cutouts of silent witnesses, those killed in domestic incidents in Hampton Roads, faced the crowd and serve as a solemn reminder of why they’re here.
“We will continue to remember their names. We will continue to tell their stories because they are saving lives,” Dieng said.