Survivors, former perpetrators team up to stop domestic violence

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POSTED: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 4:00am

UPDATED: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 4:04am

One in every four women will experience domestic violence, but that does not have to be the case.

Greater King David Baptist Church is pulling survivors and former abusers together to end the cycle of abuse in Baton Rouge.

They held the first of two candlelight vigils on Tuesday. Several women shared very personal stories about their experiences with abuse and the impact it had on their lives.

"I would rather my voice be heard," Sheila Douglas said, "because I want people to know."

The women, who called themselves victors instead of victims, said it's impossible to defeat violence alone, even if it feels shameful to speak out.

"You need to seek counseling," Christy Mamou said. "Because, just because you leave, does
not mean that it's over."

That was the case for Andrea Holliday-Wright. She escaped her husband in 1996, but he later went to her office and killed her. Her family had no idea the danger she was in.

"I didn't know anything until she left him," her sister, Delise Holliday, recalled, "but we didn't know about the abuse until after she was killed."

Holliday-Wright applied for a restraining order against her husband but was denied for a lack of evidence.

Law enforcement struggles to stop crimes related to domestic abuse. There are no checkpoints they can set up, like for drunk drivers, no undercover operations. But the Baton Rouge Police Department now gives each of its officers at least 16 hours of domestic violence awareness training before they earn a badge.

"A piece of paper has never stopped a bullet, a car, or a knife," said Sgt. Joel Callahan. "But what it does is it puts the offender on notice that law enforcement is watching you."

One former abuser spoke about how an abusive father shaped his behavior as an adult. Many of the speakers talked about abuse being a learned behavior, and the only way to end it is to teach people how to love. That is why they all shared their histories

"You know, it's helping a lot," Holliday said. "Because if you save one person's life,
you made a difference."

Greater King David will hold another vigil against domestic violence tonight at its Scotlandville location, 222 Blount Road, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call the police. You can also call the Iris Center at (225) 389-3001 or call the East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Victim Assistance Bureau at (225) 389-8888.

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