'We Remember'

Family members pay tribute to DV victims at candlelight vigil

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

GALLUP, Oct. 31, 2013

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(Times photo – Donovan Quintero)

Cassidy Mike, 8, holds a candle with both her hands while holding a moment of prayer for those who have been killed by their spouses on Sunday in Gallup. Mike’s aunt, Lula L. White, is seen pictured to her left.

Dozens of candles burned bright to remember those who survived, faced or lost their lives to domestic violence during a candlelight vigil promoting Domestic Violence Awareness month.

The theme was "We Remember." Community members came from near and far holding pictures of people they were paying tribute to. The vigil was sponsored by the Battered Families Services and held at the courthouse square in Gallup.

"It's helpful for them to share their family's story because I think when something like this happens you it could either make you bitter or better," said Battered Families Board Member Francisca Palochak.

"I think it's important for us to never forget that this could happen to anybody, any nationality, any income range -- and when someone is in a violent situation it only gets worse," Palochak said.

Palochak added that the event can "also help them to voice their frustration, hurt or anger."

Battered Families Services has been providing domestic violence services since 1985. They have a shelter for women where they can stay up to a year if needed, transitional housing where women can stay for at least three years, but they also offer counseling for women, children and abusers.

"We're struggling like any other organization," added Palochak. "Funding has been cut but we're still trying to provide services to the survivors, that's the most important thing."

The family members of Lula White of Red Lake, N.M. were in attendance to honor White, who was killed by her husband in 2009.

"It's a stepping stone. After four years we're finally able to move forward slowly," said Jennifer Redhouse from Navajo, N.M., White's niece.

"Our lives forever changed. Lula basically replaced our grandparents when we lost them, so it was really devastating when we lost her. It just seems like we're finally finding ourselves," Redhouse said.

"Gradually we're coming together," Redhouse added. "At this point we're finally able and strong enough to stand together and talk about it."

This was the first vigil White's family members have ever attended in three years since they lost her.

"It's tough still for us, but we're getting by," said Habanna Laughing from Shiprock, N.M., White's sister.

"It's important to hold vigils like this because it brings families and communities together to provide that first stepping-stone to talk," said Redhouse. "We all lost someone we love dearly and we can relate to that when we all come together.

"We're not the only ones, it's happening. We just need to bring out the sources for individuals who are going through this."

Information: Battered Families Services, 505-722-7483.

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