2nd Annual Candlelight Vigil held at Rock Creek Park

Friday, October 17, 2014

By Ivory Riner

Staff Writer

Despite the unpredictable cold weather, New Beginnings Domestic Violence Center held a candlelight vigil in honor of domestic violence month at Rock Creek Park on Tuesday. Having been in existence for a year and a half, New Beginnings, located inside the old Connelly School, currently remains the only domestic violence center in Marshall County. The goal of the organization is to provide shelter and supportive services for victims of domestic violence while seeking to end it through awareness and community education. New Beginnings provides services to victims for case management, GED certification, and college enrollment, on top of preparing them for life after domestic violence. The shelter helps victims find new housing, guides them through enrolling their children in school, lends them a hand in finding daily necessities like food and clothing, and assists them in court advocacy.

Miniature purple ribbons, representing domestic violence month, were given to everyone. Kim Young, co-director of New Beginnings, welcomed Eric Limbo from Cornersville United Methodist Church to give the invocation.

Co-director Crystal Gray told the background of New Beginnings and their goals for serving the victims in the county.

Marshall County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett delivered a proclamation that designated the month of October as Domestic Violence Month in Marshall County. He thanked the people in the crowd who helped those in need and also those who stepped out and got help.

Tim Dougan, a past abuser, unfolded his story for the crowd. He spoke about being a person he didn't like and didn't take accountability for. He finally woke up one day and noticed he was living a life he didn't want to live. Dougan has two sons, ages 15 and 18, one daughter, and two grandchildren. He started doing volunteer work for Time for a Change, an intervention program for batterers, and now works as a facilitator with their organization. He also volunteers with the A Call to Coaches program with the Young Women's Christian Association in Nashville. There he helps raise awareness among coaches, mentors, and youth advisors regarding playing an important role in promoting and developing healthy and respectable manhood in the lives of men and young boys.

Maryolive Landon was a victim of domestic violence who spoke at the vigil.

In 2011 she married her soon-to-be-ex-husband, but as the relationship went further, his possessiveness progressed. She explained how he accused her of cheating on him multiple times and even made her quit her job. He would physically assault her, kneeing her in her stomach 10 weeks into her pregnancy with their second daughter, and again when she was five months pregnant. The possessiveness continued as he controlled the money within the relationship while not allowing her to ever have more than an eighth of a tank of gas so she wouldn't try to leave him. After leaving him and then going back several times, Landon finally broke free from the toxic relationship that almost cost her and her second daughter's lives. Landon went to New Beginnings for help and enrolled in counseling. Today she is a full-time student at Columbia State Community College where she is studying to be a registered nurse practitioner and works at the school as a Lab Monitor. She ended by thanking New Beginnings for providing her the help that she needed to break away from her ex-husband.

"Kim Young and I want to thank the community for their support. The amount of young people in attendance is amazing. If you can stop the cycle of violence with our youth, it goes a long way," said co-director Gray.

To end the night, the lighting of the candles to represent victims of the passt and present was not a success, due to the gusty winds, but awareness of domestic violence was attained by each individual in attendence. Victims who are battling with domestic violence can visit www.newbeginningsdvc.org or call their 24-hour hotline at (931) 637-7625.