Tears rolled down the cheeks of Christine Lane as she spoke about going through a domestic violence experience that changed her life.
“My story started out with a smile and many words of flattering,” Lane said. “From a cute small stuffed teddy bear, holding a heart that read I Love You, which lead to a knight in shining armor, that every girl dreams of … until you realize that’s exactly what it was, just a dream, more like a nightmare.”
As she shared her testimony inside Graves Memorial Presbyterian Church, supporters of battered victims sniffled. Others fought back tears during the annual Domestic Violence Vigil hosted by U Care Inc., a nonprofit that provides a shelter variety of services for victims.
“You wake up and you wonder how did I get beat down emotionally, physically, with no self-esteem left at all,” Lane said about being abused and thinking it’s her fault.
While talking about overcoming, Lane told the audience that troubles are stepping stones through life.
“What we make with the stones is our choice,” Lane said. “We can either make a wall or make a bridge. I came to this evening to be a piece of stone in your bridge to encourage you to step up and speak out.”
As a domestic violence, Lane expressed how she’s “bruised, but not broken.”
“I’m living proof that no matter what we go through in life, we all have the strength to get through it, if we take the first step in faith,” Lane said. “Faith is taking the first step, even if we don’t see a stairwell out.”
During her testimonial, she said the first step was relying on God after her former spouse threatened to killer her, family members and parents. Another step involved getting help from U Care.
“I finally got a night’s rest and I felt safe and protected,” Lane said. “They went with me to court because I was scared, but I had someone there with me that made me feel like it was OK.”
U Care provided assistance with protection orders and helped with other personal matters. She reminded everyone that help is always available.
“I just encourage to make that first phone call and I promise you that God will help you the rest of the way,” Lane said about being a survivor.
During the event, the memories of victims were honored.The Monday night event at the church featured a candle lighting ceremony and a moment of silence after more than 60 names were read by the Rev. Elwood McPhail, a U Care staff member. He also thanked Lane for sharing her story and said it’s a problem that occurs everywhere, not just large cities like New York.
“You being here make a difference,” McPhail said. “You holding that candle makes a difference because it’s a lot of people who died and gave up their lives because they were a victim of domestic violence and sexual assault. During this point in our vigil, we want to remember those individuals that didn’t make it.”
The Rev. Marcus Becton, Clinton mayor pro-tem, said it’s wonderful to have organizations like U Care to help victims. He considers the organization a special type of ministry because it’s helping people heal. In a year, the organization has helped more than 1,300 people.
“It says a lot,” Becton said while praising U Care. “But it also says a lot that this thing is so prevalent in our county when that many people are affected by abuse and domestic violence. I really believe that it’s important that this should be an alarm to our county, being one of the largest counties in North Carolina, land wise. That number should be so much smaller, but ministries and groups like you guys are helping to make a difference and we appreciate that.”
The event also included a performance by members of Girl Scouts Troop 4021. Mabel Rose Parker sang “Rescue Me,” a song she learned at Vacation Bible School. Jewell Carr performed a tap dance routine. U Care’s vigil also included participation and remarks from Perry Solice, a U Care Board Director; Steve Wilkins, pastor of Graves Memorial Presbyterian Church; and Anthony Davis, assistant chief of the Clinton Police Department.
“First and foremost, it’s very important to tell your story,” Davis said. “Not only for you to heal, but for those that may be voiceless to come forward with their domestic violence issues.”
Davis added that measures were put in place at the department to help victims such as Tip 411, an anonymous reporting system that could lead to investigations into domestic violence problems. He said it spans into all demographics involving race, age and economic background.
“It doesn’t matter who it is,” Davis said. “We’ve had children come forward with domestic violence, so it’s very important, even at a young age to tell their teachers and school resource officers. It’s important to come forward with it.”
He added that the goal of police is not just locking people up, but to assist the public by contacting resources such as U Care.
“We want to help you through the healing process,” Davis said, “not just put handcuffs on people that commit domestic violence.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.