On Monday night, Community leaders, elected representatives, and residents of Montclair, Orange, Belleville, and surrounding towns joined Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates (SOFIA) for a vigil to remember loved ones lost, support those surviving, and to promote a unified response to breaking the cycle of violence that allows domestic violence to continue.
About 100 supporters circled Crane Park to speak names, share resources, and gather in unity. Cynthia Walker, SOFIA’s founder, organized the event to shine a light against the darkness of domestic violence in our communities. Those present at the vigil who had experienced domestic violence were each given a special pin to signify their status as a survivor. The mantra “Where There is Awareness There is Hope” was emphasized, as was the hope that by drawing attention to the issue, the secrecy and shame associated with it would dissipate.
With over 70,000 yearly reports of domestic violence in New Jersey alone, we can be assured that each of us knows someone in an abusive relationship. Each year, approximately 40 NJ homicides can be traced back to domestic violence situations, and Montclair is no exception. Signs with the names of Shazmina Khan, Shanae Howard, and Monica Paul, among too many others, were held high to be remembered and honored as those present lit the darkness with candlelight.
Mayor Jackson, Freeholder Giblin, 4th Ward Councilwoman Baskerville, and members of the Montclair Police Department’s Community Service Unit were present to lend support. A large showing from the Montclair High School club Sisters on the Runway, which has held yearly fundraisers for domestic violence awareness, also came to light candles. Several officials from Orange, as well as family, friends, and those who wish to remember lost loved ones were also present.
SOFIA holds events to support those who have been victims of domestic violence, and it also addresses the need to break the cycle with its workshops for Men Against Domestic Violence. Email SOFIA for more information.
Too see more images of the evening, click here for Armando Diaz’s photographs on his Facebook page.