Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the location of the vigil.
Domestic violence continues even when others turn their heads.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence said the aggression and cruelty thrive in the silence.
To combat the quiet battle, October was named National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this week local voices will be heard. A candlelight vigil will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 Thursday at the train depot at Riverwalk Park, 421 Court St., for the 19th year in remembrance of the lives lost to domestic violence and in support of the Onslow County Women’s Center and their efforts to put a stop to it.
“Please come out,” Candy Thompson, the vice chair on the women’s center board of directors, asked of Onslow County.
At a recent women’s center event, the Dancing Stars of Jacksonville, more than 600 people showed up, Thompson said. She would love to see that many candles lit Thursday night, she added.
Those in attendance will hear from at least one domestic violence victim, Thompson said.
“You’re going to hear the name of individuals that have passed away this past year,” she said.
That includes the death that shattered the hope of a year without a fatality due to domestic violence, something that Thompson said she and the women’s center were keeping track of.
George Shafto beat his girlfriend, Mary Stoll, to death on April 2, The Daily News reported. Shafto, who was charged with murder in connection with Stoll’s death, later hung himself in jail and died from his injuries on Sept. 10.
Although there has been progress made in raising awareness, it’s not enough, Thompson said. Not if people are still dying at the hands of their partners.
“We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a ways to go,” she said.
Everyone is invited to attend the vigil this week and Thompson encourages parents to bring their children.
“I bring my daughter every year,” Thompson said. “I want her to know (domestic violence) is not something to be tolerated . . . This is not normal.”
Monetary donations will be accepted at the vigil to help support the Onslow Women’s Center and items may also be donated for the thrift store the organization runs.
Thompson said it’s just a couple of hours out of the day — a small amount of time when compared to the hours of abuse some women have endured — but it’s big show of support for ending domestic violence.