D/SAOC vigil a time for remembrance

For one night, survivors of domestic violence and those who have lost loved ones to that crime will come together to remember and listen to stories of survivors and advocates.

The Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center will be holding its annual victims and survivors of domestic violence vigil on Oct. 24 at St. Paul Lutheran Church.

Unlike previous years, which have featured only one guest speaker, this year there will be two people speaking about their experiences with domestic violence.

One speaker, Tanya Jensen, will be talking about her experiences as a domestic violence survivor, according to Marie Harvey, assistant director/counselor at D/SAOC.

“Tanya plans to talk about the rights of children who are caught in the middle of domestic violence relationships and how their lives are affected by it,” Harvey said. “She’s also going to talk about the resources that are available and how they’re helpful to someone who wants to make their life better.”

The other speaker is Rhonda Dean, who is a victim rights coordinator with the state Crime Victims Assistance Division. Dean will be talking about her job and experiences in the field.

Harvey said she believes both speakers and their topics will have a strong connection to this year’s vigil theme, which is “strength, hope and remembrance.”

“I really think with Tonya’s firsthand experience and Rhonda’s work in the field will really tie in together,” she said.

Besides the speakers, Harvey said the vigil will also feature music, a candle lighting and life-sized red silhouettes that will be arranged around the chapel. Each silhouette represents a person who was killed as a result of domestic violence.

Harvey said this vigil provides not only a way for those affected by domestic violence to come together, but it also shows support to the survivors and their families.

“Lots of times we have many survivors in the audience,” she said. “I think the community coming together to show their support is a huge backing for them. They know they’re not alone and don’t need to feel like they’re being shunned.”