Help stop domestic violence

Published 11:39 am Thursday, October 18, 2018

Empty pairs of shoes lined Mocksville’s Main Street Park at noon on Friday. At the entrance were silhouettes of a man, woman and children.

They were symbols of domestic violence – symbols of people.

“People have lost their lives to domestic violence and all we have left to remember them is symbols,” said Pat Reagan, Mocksville assistant police chief and chair of the advisory board for the Davie Center for Violence Prevention. “The silent witnesses help us to remember their stories.”

Each name of a person who died as a result of domestic violence in North Carolina within the past year was read, as a bell was rang in their memory.

“One name on that list is too many,” Reagan said. “Domestic violence is here and it impacts us as a community.”

One of the more recent victims was a Davie resident.

Those at the ceremony were at attention as Susannah Anderson detailed her years as a victim.

“You may have broken my body, but you can never break my soul,” Anderson said.

Her story was somewhat typical. She was young, and the man told her she was beautiful. Things were great.

Then, he started asking her to skip things she enjoyed, not to see people she would normally see, including family.

But she stayed in the relationship. She was at his beck and call, yet she craved the attention he had once given her so freely. “He had me under his spell.”

She learned what it was like to be a prisoner in her own home when she moved in with the man. He went to college and stayed on campus. She was alone in an apartment. He regularly accused her of cheating and  didn’t allow her to contact her family.

“I knew deep down that something wasn’t right,” she said. “The feeling of not being able to do anything right was overwhelming.”

The abuse went from mental to physical.

“Every time he struck me, I apologized. Then he apologized and said he would never do it again. But he did – over and over again.”

Anderson praised the law enforcement officers who came to the residence. They were kind and wanted to help, but they needed her cooperation.

She had been in the relationship for two years, and it was two more before she mustered the courage to leave.

“My story is about hope,” Anderson said. “Never stop sharing hope. Even when they (victims) pretend not to care, keep offering hope.”

She spoke to other victims in the audience. “It will get better. You can do this.”

The Rev. Dana Fruits, pastor of Mocksville First Presbyterian, offered information congregations can use to help fight domestic violence.

“The more we shed light on the evil of violence, the more we can do to prevent it,” Fruits said.