By Wilborn Nobles III | LSU Student
The IRIS Domestic Violence Center of Baton Rouge says the city has experienced at least five victims of fatal domestic violence since September 2012.
More than 100 people came together to remember abuse victims Sunday night, whether their cases were unresolved or never reported, in the 27th annual Take Back the Night candlelight vigil and march at LSU's Memorial Tower.
"I love going out and speaking to women; the non-residential women, the women in the shelter, I just love it," said Juanita McCray.
McCray, an outreach advocate raising awareness of domestic and sexual violence among institutions ranging from schools to churches, is a survivor of domestic abuse from six years ago.
"I've had a gun put to my head and I actually had to jump out the vehicle," McCray said, who tells women to be cautious and never take someone's physical threats for granted.
Survivors like McCray and community leaders, like East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden, are speaking on domestic violence at other opportunities beyond the event.
"You've got to counsel women a lot more and tell them they can free themselves from slavery that's been put upon them by people who are hell bent on fighting them and beating them up," Holden said.
The LSU event highlights how national statistics stress that 1-in-4 women will experience intimate partner violence, and 1-in-5 women will experience a completed or attempted rape in her lifetime.
The crowd applauded two survivors, 64-year-old Carin Carlson and her 40-year-old daughter Megan, who shared their abuse experiences. Carin was beaten by Megan's father who threatened to toss a 1-year-old Megan off a balcony.
"I just want to let you guys know that we have to teach our girls and our boys this is not okay," said Megan, who tearfully hugged her mother when explaining how a man she consider her friend raped her.
Several organizations and volunteers, including LSU Student Health, LSU Women's Center, LSU Campus Life, IRIS and STAR, read aloud the names of fatal domestic violence victims.
They also lit candles to honor survivors and those imprisoned after defending themselves from abuse.
LSU Feminists in Action took the lead of a mile-long march in the street as the daylight faded, ending the day after Holden officially deemed October 2013 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.