ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) – The first week of October kicks off Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“Domestic violence is surrounded in fear, and it affected me today coming here to speak, and it affects every part of your life,” a survivor named Tracy said.
Alamance County completed its annual domestic violence fatality reviews. The numbers show that out of 21 domestic-related homicides in the county, only 4 percent of victims had gone to get help from victim services prior to their death. It’s a concerning number, especially as high-risk cases are increasing in Alamance County.
In a one-year period from 2021 to 2022, the Family Justice Center had 117 strangulation cases come through its door. In the following year, that number went up to 234 cases.
The victims who have been strangled by their abuser are 750 times more likely to be killed by their abuser than those who are not strangled. The reality is that those are just the ones the county knows about. There are still more cases going unreported.
Survivors of domestic violence want to share one word with the community: courage. This is not something that is easy to talk about. It’s even more difficult to come to the Family Justice Center to get help. The survivors want you to know that you are not alone, and you don’t need to feel embarrassed, and there is help for you.
“For a long time, I was hoping somebody would show up to help me get out of my situation, and … I was praying for a hero for so long. What I really needed to pray for was the courage to do it myself,” said Paige Holliman, a survivor.
She found the courage to get help 12 years ago, because of her kids.
“My daughter was transitioning to womanhood. She was 11,12,13 years old, and I saw how much it was affecting her,” Paige said. “I didn’t want my son who was an infant … at the time thinking it was OK to treat people like that.”
Another survivor named Ada witnessed domestic violence at home as a child and turned that trauma into her lifelong mission as a police officer.
“I wanted to help out those who didn’t have a voice or didn’t know where to go or what to do, and at least I could be that guide for them,” Ada said.
The feeling of leaving their abuser is the scariest thing they’ve ever done.
“I am very proud of the fact that I did survive. To be honest, I thought about committing suicide,” Tracy said. “In the end, it is worth it. I am married to an absolutely wonderful man who respects me and loves me, and that wouldn’t have happened if I had stayed and continued down the path that I was going.”
Those survivors are now part of a group called Voices, which is a judgment-free zone to share their stories.
“I didn’t expect it would happen to someone like me because I consider myself as kind of this tough chick,” Paige said. “Several broken bones later and visits to the hospital, I just needed to feel safe again. I needed to feel like myself again.”
They are healing day by day and working together for a brighter future for all domestic violence victims.
“What survivors are really wanting, needing and asking for in the community now is in addition to safety and support, justice would be nice. Having some harsher stricter penalties for the things that happened to us,” Paige said.
Their goal is that nobody suffers in silence.
“Go get help. Speak up. Show your kids you can do it. Believe in yourself. You are strong, and you can get through this. You can get past it,” Paige said.
All of the survivor’s stories are different, which is typical of domestic violence. It comes in many forms.
The Family Justice Center works with survivors based on their individual needs. If you are in need of help, Family Abuse Services has a 24/7 number you can call for help: (336) 226-5985.