GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - The Jambalaya Park in Gonzales is a place usually reserved for celebration, but on Monday evening darkened silhouettes dotted the crowd gathered there. Each one represented a life lost to domestic violence in Louisiana in the last calendar year.
"We're also just bringing awareness to the community about domestic violence," explained Kimberlee Wells, the Iris Domestic Violence Center Outreach Director.
The Iris Center hosted Take Back the Night, an event focusing on domestic violence awareness. It was a chance for Ascension Parish residents to come together with law enforcement and domestic violence workers to make a stand and remember those who could not escape.
"Any time you promote awareness about a certain dynamic of crime, anytime you do that, get the community involved, it's always harder for the criminals in this case to get by with it," explained Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley.
Of those deaths in Louisiana, four were in Ascension Parish.
"Victims that feel like they have nowhere to go, nowhere to turn, they have no hope," said Wells. "That's the message we want to address that we are in the community to help."
The Iris Center operates in seven parishes and can provide victims with everything from emergency shelter to job skills activities. The center's 24-hour hotline is 225-389-3001. More information can be found here.