Honoring victims and survivors of domestic violence

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Dozens came together to call attention to a very serious issue that claims the lives of millions each year. Organizers with Hope Harbor headed up an effort to recognize victims and survivors of domestic violence.

As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, dozens walked in the annual “Silence Hides Violence” walk. Most of those walking Tuesday have been directly affected by domestic violence. This group includes one woman who survived even after having her body blown apart by a large gun.

“I was at the other end of a shotgun in the back room. He had the 12 gauge shotgun cocked, chambered…in my face,” says Laura White.

She says she was in an abusive relationship for about five years before she decided to leave her husband. She filed for divorce in 2009 while living in Houston, but there was nothing smooth about this process.

“Told me he was going to kill me and then kill himself. If he can’t have me no one else was gonna have me,” says White.

White says, her husband’s threats turned into promises.

“When I jumped up to try to get up and around him he stepped back and shot me in the abdomen. Blew me wide open,” says White.

White had a total of 19 surgeries as part of her recovery. White says her ex-husband is serving a life sentence in prison.

“You don’t wanna admit it to your family, you don’t want to admit to your friends so you cover it up,” says Bonnie Kennedy.

Bonnie Kennedy was also among those victims participating in the annual Domestic Violence Walk. She says she survived two abusive marriages. She explains why she was hesitant to leave.

“Because you’ve got your children. You’ve got your life and a lot of times the women have the husband supporting them and so it’s scary to go out on your own,” says Kennedy.

After the walk, there was an event to make folks aware of the services available to domestic violence victims. Both White and Kennedy say, it’s programs like Hope Harbor that have the ability to save lives. They say, one way Hope Harbor does this is providing a level of comfort and trust.

“It’s not something people like to talk about but the more you talk about it people will understand it and give you the help,” says Kennedy.

Representatives with Hope Harbor say, the most dangerous time for a victim is when they are leaving a relationship or when they have left the relationship. They say, often times victims leave their homes with nothing and turn to domestic violence shelters for safety and support.

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