Victims and Vigil Raise Awareness for Domestic Violence

Click HERE for the Voices of Hope website.

On average, three women a day in the United States die from domestic violence. In Lincoln, since the year 2000, 45 people have died.

They're emotional, difficult and sometimes tragic stories, that often happen behind closed doors and aren't made public.

But if there's one light that shines through during Domestic Violence Awareness month, it's that there is help and hope.

Valarie Engler is lucky to say she's a survivor.

She tells 10/11, "It was at my grandpa's funeral when I decided I was going to leave, because if I didn't leave, I would be the next funeral that everyone there would be coming to."

In 1998, she made the tough decision to leave her then husband.

"It was like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulder and it was like none of those things mattered, I just have to go."

Even though she left her then husband, Valarie says the physical and emotional tolls have a lasting, life-long effect.

Thursday night, Valarie joined others at the Voices of Hope vigil. There, people remembered the victims who didn't make it, women like Gena Hegemann's sister, Kimberly.

During the vigil Gena shared her sister's story of the fateful day in June 2005. She said, "The children reported they saw a car pull up in front of their house, heard a door slam, and within moments they saw their father jump over the fence with a shotgun. He used the shotgun to threaten, intimidate and within moments kill their mother."

Her sister, a victim of domestic violence, Gena took in Kimberly's two children to raise with her own two kids.

"The price that we've all paid by blending our families has been tremendous. But the price that Kimberly paid was higher. So I'm just glad I don't have that decision to make again, and we will make the best with what we've chosen."

It's a price these women want you to know, you don't have to go through by yourself.

Hegemann says, "Hope in getting support, hope in not being alone, hope in the fact that, there are many people experiencing domestic violence and there are many agencies and people willing to help."

Valerie, "We as survivors of domestic violence, or victims of domestic violence have to decide that we're are going to be strong, and that we are stronger than the perpetrator."

If you or someone you know are going through domestic violence, there is help available.

Each year Voices of Hope helps around 2,000 people and they think there are even more people affected. Executive Director Marcee Metzger believes many cases go unreported in Lincoln. She says studies show 22% of people polled in Lincoln are victims of domestic violence.

Metzger says abuse comes in many forms., physical, sexual, economic and family violence.

It all affects a person being able to leave an abusive relationship.

"Children happen to be one of the biggest ones in family violence when someone is being battered in their homes. The fear that their children will have to continue there or will have to be taken away from them or hurt, because they're not there to protect them, I think that's one of the number one things."

Voices of Hope is open daily and they have a 24-hour crisis line.

That number is 402-475-7273. You can also find more information on their website, by clicking on the link to the left.


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