The silence of the sanctuary was a feeling as much as a sound Thursday evening as survivors and supporters gathered at the Yadkinville United Methodist Church for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Elkin showed its support Monday.
“The human soul just by God’s grace is a wonderful thing and I really want to thank Pamela [Weikle] and Jeffrey [Pyles] for being here tonight to share their stories with us and help us understand a little more about what it’s like to be a victim of domestic violence,” said Commissioner Kevin Austin, chairman of the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners, as he opened the vigil.
Weikle and Pyles shared their stories of survival as part of the Remember My Name Candlelight Vigil in Yadkinville, where a somber crowd remembered their own experiences with domestic violence.
“A strong independent woman with a big heart,” read Pyles off the memorial for his mother who was killed in 2008 while trying to leave a violent home. “She worked for the state caring for the elderly; her patients loved her.
“Jane expressed concerns about her safety, but did not know where to turn. Jane’s boyfriend killed her and shot her son.”
If Jane had known one simple thing, her son is certain she would be alive today.
“Have a bag ready to go,” pleaded Pyles. “Have all of your important papers together so there is absolutely no reason for you to go back.”
The Yadkin Valley Economic Development District (YVEDDI) has a multitude of programs in place to help with everything that cannot be grabbed on the way out of an unsafe home.
“YVEDDI has a Community Block Grant to help people in these situations,” said Weikle, who left her home after her husband choked her. “They can help you with shelter, food, gas, education, all your job hunting.
“They helped me with everything,” said Weikle. “If you come out with nothing, you will find what you need at most of these shelters.”
There are a variety of services offered by the YVEDDI Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Programs including the 24/7 Crisis Lines at 336-679-2072 for Yadkin County and 336-356-2014 for Surry County.
Many people may be aware of the community education and client counseling as well as the information about local shelters, but they may not be aware that a staff member will supply emergency transportation and will accompany victims to the hospital and court.
The trained professional staff will assist in filing paperwork from restraining orders to resumes. They are an excellent source for finding out what resources are available and can help victims find healthcare as well as food.
“My story turned from ‘I can’t do this,’ to ‘I can do this,’ to ‘I did this in a year’ [thanks to YVEDDI and other similar programs],” said Weikle. “I feel like I gained a whole new life.”
“It’s such a tough story to hear,” said Austin, who was disturbed by YVEDDI’s statistic that it had served 759 unduplicated incidents between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017.
“I was struck by the high number of people they serve,” said Lynda Black after the information session held at the Elkin Public Library Monday evening. “This demonstrates the need for services in the area.”
“I appreciate all that the YEDDI Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault office does and offers for our community,” said Sandee Rondeau. “Unfortunately it is a much needed program.
“I wish there was more participation from the police department and DSS [Department of Social Services] and other organizations that are also tied in to these situations,” said Rondeau. “The vigil is a way to get awareness out about the programs offered right here in our area. I also would like to see more support from the community in the future.”
As a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, Rondeau understands how important it is for community members to be present in their support of these events.
“Some may not come forward because they feel others suffered worse, some don’t come forward because they are scared or ashamed,” said Rondeau. “It is important for survivors to share their stories with others.”
“To hear Pam’s story and how all those resources are pulled together, it’s just a great story to hear because that’s what we’re all here for,” said Austin, “to build our community and uplift each other and to make the best results for everyone that we can.”
“The work they do truly changes people’s lives,” said a grateful Black.
To find out more about the services offered through YVEDDI Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Programs, go to www.yveddi.com/domestic-violence-programs/.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.