Cherokee Family Violence Center Executive Director Meg Rogers spoke throughout the ceremony, pointing to wooden silhouettes of 12 Cherokee County victims who lost their lives in the last six years as she spoke about
serious danger of domestic violence.
“This year, as in years past, we honor victims and survivors of domestic violence, and we pause to remember those who lost their lives. Let us not forget those who lost their lives in this county over just the past six years. They stand as silent witnesses all around us, to how dangerous of a crime this is,” Rogers said Tuesday night, motioning to the wooden silhouettes around the gazebo. “Thankfully, there were no domestic violence homicides in Cherokee County in the past 12 months.”
Rogers said there were 2,076 calls to law enforcement for help in domestic violence situations this year, representing every race, religion, nationality and social position in the county, and were “overwhelmingly female.”
“We know that 962 victims sought service at the Cherokee Family Violence Center, that the CFVC provided shelter to 97 women, children and men, for 4,214 nights, and was at 96 percent capacity for the entire year,” Rogers said.
Three survivors of domestic violence situations told their stories to the crowd as part of the program, and others stepped up to the microphone to add their experiences when Rogers invited anyone who wanted to share to come on stage.
Canton Police officer Lt. German Rivas gave a prayer before candles were lit and read the names of 61 victims who died this year in Georgia. They were represented by white flags with purple ribbons that were scattered in the grass around the gazebo.
“Father, tonight we lift up to your presence the family members of all of those who have been victims of domestic violence,” Rivas prayed. “We pray that through the presence and the power of your Holy Spirit, that you may bring hope, because sometimes hope is lost. That you may bring healing to their hearts and minds. That they can know that there is hope when we trust in you.”
In total, the CFVC provided more than 20,000 services to people in the community, from family safety plans to affordable safe housing, Rogers said.
“Domestic violence is the leading cause of non-accidental injury in the United States, it kills 1,500 women every year in this country, and we all have a role to play: to just speak out against it, to support victims as they navigate the almost impossible choices to become safe, to teach our boys to respect girls, to teach our girls that control is not love, to change the cultural discourse, that violence, jealousy and control is not love,” Rogers said. “We all have a role to stopping domestic violence for this generation and the next, to speak out, to stand up, to say ‘no more.’”
Holding elected officials responsible for their role in ending domestic violence is another important aspect for changing the future, Rogers said.
“We also need to let our elected officials know that we need strong laws and they need to be effectively enforced,” Rogers added. “And that we need funding to help families heal.”
Roger thanked those who helped put together the ceremony, as well as the companies and businesses that donated food and decorations for the event and the speakers who showed their support for ending domestic violence, including Superior Court Judge Jackson Harris, Liberty Hill United Methodist Church Pastor Jamey Prickett, the True Life Ministries Women of Worship, survivors of domestic violence and Rivas from the Canton Police Department.
Rogers also recognized and thanked Solicitor General Jessica Moss for attending the vigil.
Along with flags in memory of Georgia victims and silhouettes to remember county victims, the Clothesline Project displayed T-shirts that were decorated by survivors, expressing issues and emotions surrounding domestic violence.