The Silent Witness Initiative tour stopped in Durant Monday evening.
The program, hosted by Verizon Wireless and the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (OCADVSA), aims to raise awareness of domestic violence in the month of October.
Monday night’s event consisted of a candle light vigil in memory of those who have been lost to and those who have survived domestic violence.
Two former victims of domestic violence stood up to testify what it was like in an abusive relationship and how friends helped save them.
They told of how the kinds of abuse they were put through, how it affected the ways they thought and how they got out.
Nicole Loper received a broken jaw from her ex-husband that caused her to have her jaw wired shut and her weight dropped to only 98 pounds.
Loper only decided to get out of the relationship when she noticed her son treating his sisters the way her husband treated her.
As Loper read from an old journal she revealed that she felt broken. “David broke my soul,” said the journal entry.
One woman, Tara Woodlee, told of her daughter’s case. Woodlee’s daughter, Ashleigh Lindsey tried to get out of an abusive relationship but was tracked down and murdered by her ex-fiancé.
Woodlee said that even she thought the man was nice. “He was sweet, played up her strengths,” she said. But Tara said that changed when her daughter was engaged to the man.
She said not only did he tell Ashley she was ugly but continually broke her phones and burned her with cigarettes.
Ashley decided to leave when the man kicked her in the stomach while she was pregnant with his baby. She told her mother she was afraid to leave because he had said he would kill her family if she did.
Woodlee said Ashley did everything right. She went to the police found help and support, and moved and changed her phone number three times.
She was four months pregnant when the man and his friend, hiding from police, tracked Ashley down and shot her.
“She didn’t die right away,” said Woodlee. The man however took his own life and did die right away. While at the hospital Ashley lost the baby. Her mother told her she did not have to hold on any longer and Ashley died within seconds.
“Take a stand please,” said Woodlee at Monday evening’s vigil. She encouraged listeners to speak out when they suspect domestic violence, asking the crowd to not let any other mother get the call she did.
Jane McMillan, SE counseling Director, said that Southeastern students have been stepping up when it comes to domestic violence.
She has seen more and more men taking a stand at events against domestic violence. “SE students are part of the solution not part of the problem,” She said.
For Southeastern, this event kicked off the red flag campaign on campus. McMillan said there will be over 200 red flags on campus to remind student to take a stand against domestic violence.
For more information on Domestic Violence or to report Domestic Violence call Durant Crisis Control Center at 580-924-3056.