Domestic Violence vigil

Survivors of domestic violence, family, friends, supporters and survivors of those who lost their lives at the hands of a loved one will gather at BB&T Park on Thursday, Oct. 22 for the annual Domestic Violence Vigil.

The vigil will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is sponsored by the Gordon County Domestic Violence Outreach Office.

This is the 12th year for the vigil and the guest speaker is Michele Toledo, president of the Georgia Latinos Against Domestic Violence, according to Beatriz Alvarez, Bilingual Client Advocate with the outreach office.

This year, the majority of the vigil will be conducted in Spanish.

Roberta Charbonneau, Coordinator for Family Connection of Gordon County, said the outreach center has wanted to assist more than English speaking clients for years.

“They have hired the bilingual support staff and that is so important because many times, if someone is being abused, in whatever form, and they don’t speak the language, that is almost a quadruple burden,” she said.

Fliers are being distributed in English and Spanish. Charbonneau said nearly everything put out now, no matter what committee or issue they are addressing, is put out in bilingual languages.

Charbonneau continued, “I’m so proud of our community that they have addressed that issue and stepped forward to make that an available resource for our community.”

According to Lt. Tony Pyle with the Calhoun Police Department, between January 1 and October 1, 2015, the CPD has received 147 reports of domestic violence. 

“Domestic Violence is an appalling human rights violation, but it is not inevitable,” Pyle said. “Education is key if we want to try and stop or prevent the cycle of violence that is often seen in abusive relationships.”

Charbonneau said in the past, between 35 to 50 people have shown up for the vigil. “Sadly when there has been a really visible case of abuse, more people will be there because more people know about it,” she said.

Charbonneau said many times domestic violence is held in a small circle.

She spoke of Dana Patterson Mackay, a Calhoun native who was killed in 2013 during a murder for hire plan set in motion by her husband, John Mackay, in Virginia.

“That was so raw and fresh, we had a big turn out that year,” Charbonneau said.

She said they are hoping that it will be a great turnout this year because of the support to the Spanish speaking community and members.

The vigil takes less than an hour. People read poems, say prayers and honor victims. Afterward, everyone gets a candle, walks around the park and returns for refreshments.

Also in conjunction with October being Domestic Violence Month, on Friday Oct. 16 the 9th Annual Domestic Violence Conference will be held at Rockbridge Church, (Stage 123) 123 Gordon Street, in downtown Dalton. The conference is open to the public and is a full day of education where professionals from around the state will speak. The cost is $40, to register go to

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