Vigil honors domestic violence survivors

As a young girl, domestic violence survivor “Priscilla” spent many hours asking questions, both personal and religious.

“Where was my safe haven? Where was my go-to person? Why did this happen to me?” she said at the Oct. 10 domestic violence vigil at the Trumbull Library.

The questions did not stop there, she said as many times she tried to escape sexual abuse from her father and his friends in desperate, silent prayer.

“I asked God, what did I do wrong? Why is this happening?” she said.

Priscilla, a member of the group, VOICES at the Center for Family Justice, was the keynote speaker at the vigil, which also included a reading of the names of 20 people killed in Connecticut by family members or domestic partners in the last 12 months.

Debra Greenwood, the center’s president and CEO, said last year the group provided emergency domestic violence service to 143 Trumbull residents. Overall, the center provided 5,000 nights in shelters for those fleeing domestic violence in the region, including providing for 250 children, she said. In total, 89% of those that use the center’s services are women, she said.

“Domestic violence affects all communities, all genders, all races, and all religions,” she said.

Numerous town officials also offered their thoughts, with First Selectman Vicki Tesoro thanking the survivors for their courage in coming forward to tell their stories.

“You serve as the example for others,” she said.

Police Chief Michael Lombardo said that calls to domestic violence incidents were among the most dangerous for police officers due to the highly stressed and emotional nature of the situations. But for those involved in the situation, who probably lack the officer’s training and backup, it is far more dangerous.

“The thing I am most proud of is that when Trumbull residents are experiencing a traumatic situation at home, we can go in and create a situation where their lives can be safe,” he said.

Trumbull Rotary Club member John Coleman said the numbers don’t tell the whole story, as each person must make the individual choice to call for help.

“We know at least 143 people needed to get to safety last year, and many more didn’t report it and didn’t get the help they needed,” he said. “Right now, there is someone in Trumbull sitting alone, wondering, ‘What am I going to do?’” he said.

Priscilla was that person once, she said. Then she called for help. She encouraged others to do the same.

“Before there was #MeToo there was the center,” she said. “You have a right to be free from fear. It’s never too late to make a change, and stand up and fight back, tell your story, become a survivor.”

Editor's Note — An earlier version of this story misidentified John Coleman as the Rotary Club president.