Each year 30 percent of the nation’s female murder victims are killed by intimate partners. YWCA identifies them as “silent witnesses” and hosts a vigil in their memory. YWCA Central Alabama invites the community to its annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month Walk & Vigil Thursday, Oct. 17. It is part of a two-fold event the local agency will host during National Week Without Violence.
Part of a global movement and observed Oct. 14-18 this year, Week Without Violence is an opportunity for YWCAs worldwide to show solidarity around ending gender-based violence. The week falls within Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For two decades YWCA USA has set aside a week to host informative events and advocate for an end to violence against women and girls. It’s an observance YWCA Central Alabama has taken up locally for many years by hosting an annual candlelight vigil that brings together victims of domestic violence and advocates against it.
In 2018, a walk was added to the event as a public stand against domestic and intimate partner violence. This year’s walk will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday and spans seven blocks – from the YWCA’s downtown Birmingham office at 309 23rd Street North to Kelly Ingram Park at 500 17th Street North. The number of blocks is a sobering reminder that the average battered woman leaves seven times before permanently leaving a relationship.
The vigil begins at 6:30 p.m. Candles will be lit in memory of domestic violence victims and their names will be read aloud by The Magic City Chapter of The Links, Inc. Among the invited guests for the vigil are Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr, Sgt. Mary Lewis-Payne of the Birmingham Police Department, Wanda Jones-Miller of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, R.G. Wilson-Lyons of First Church Birmingham, Cat Goodrich of First Presbyterian Church, Cheryl McWhorter Featherstone of No More (Victims of Domestic Violence), and Sybil Scarborough, executive administrator to the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Survivors will also speak.
Walk & Vigil participants may arrive at the YWCA as early as 5:45 p.m. Parking options will be available at 309 23rd Street North and the TQL parking lot across from the YWCA building. Domestic violence resources and prevention materials will be available. There is no fee or registration required for these events, which are family, stroller, and pet friendly.
The local YWCA Domestic Violence Services program provides emergency shelters for victims of domestic violence, manages a 24/7 crisis hotline, 205.322.HURT (4878), and provides court advocacy, legal representation, individual and group counseling for those in need. YWCA Central Alabama is also the only provider of supervised visitation in Jefferson County, which is often necessary in domestic violence cases.
In 2018, YWCA Central Alabama’s DV Services fielded 1,688 crisis hotline calls and provided 10,503 nights of safety for 226 adults and 211 children in two shelters. Nearly 3,000 people received domestic violence outreach and training, and 1,677 students were taught about healthy dating relationships.
YWCA Central Alabama is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. The YWCA provides child development programs; safe, affordable housing; a broad array of domestic violence services; and social justice programs. For more information, please visit www.ywcabham.org, www.facebook.com/YWCACentralAlabama or follow @YWCentralAL on Twitter.