SAFE Shelter holds vigil to remember domestic violence victims

SAFE Shelter holds vigil to remember domestic violence victims

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - 109 women, men, and children lost their lives in Georgia last year from domestic violence. SAFE Shelter, the center for domestic violence services, held their annual vigil Friday to remember them.

One survivor said she wants to encourage those who may be in an abusive situation to know they can overcome it and there’s help.

Seven people died in Savannah last year from domestic violence. The youngest was just 13 years old.

Survivor Jachiquita Bonaparte says her six children gave her the courage to walk away from her abusive relationship.

“Being with them every day. Making sure that they’re well taken care of. Getting the emotional support they actually needed, which made me understand that that situation wasn’t suitable for myself or for them. So, do it with that I love my kids so much the way that I do gave me the strength. They gave me the courage. It gave me the tenacity to walk away,” Bonaparte said.

Bonaparte was just one of many members of our community who came to SAFE Shelter’s annual candlelight vigil. It’s usually held in Forsyth Park, but was moved due to COVID-19.

The executive director says we must keep talking about domestic violence, especially for those suffering.

“Domestic violence shelters across the country are doing this. And I think we must do our part. We have to say their names. We can’t forget these people. They can’t just be a piece of history,” SAFE Shelter Executive Director Cheryl Branch said.

Bonaparte says leaving an abusive relationship is a recovery process and hopes her story can encourage someone to overcome their situation.

“You owe it to yourself, as I said, to live your truth, to live your life burden free of violence, to live your life in peace. Live your truth even when your voice shakes. Even when the room seems like it’s closing in on you and you’re losing your breath,” Bonaparte said.

SAFE Shelter can be reached 24 hours a day at (912) 629-8888.

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