ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – On Wednesday, Tri-County Safe Harbor partnered with Bay College for an inaugural event in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“Remember Me: End the Silence, Stop the Violence” began with speeches by three domestic violence survivors. Each shared their story of struggle and survival.
Survivor Tara Clark, who is also a crisis advocate at Tri-County Safe Harbor, was the first speaker.
“It’s beneficial to everyone in terms of raising awareness, and it is happening in our community,” she said. “A lot of people tend to believe that it doesn’t exist, but it most certainly does. We are here to make it known that people can speak up and say, ‘This happened and I need help.’ I hope that people are encouraged to step forward if that’s something that they’re bearing alone.”
Following their speeches, the survivors answered questions from the audience about their experiences, including LeeAnn Wilmoth, who refers to herself as a ‘victor.’
In July of 2017, Wilmoth agreed to go fishing with a coworker. She was then sexually assaulted and held hostage for six days, until an undercover detective saw Wilmoth inside her abuser’s car.
Wilmoth was open with attendees about those six days. She hopes her vulnerability and willingness to share can help others better understand domestic abuse and give hope to victims.
“I think it gives them a different perspective on maybe what they think domestic violence or sexual assault is,” Wilmoth said. “It can give them an encouragement to tell their story or to get involved themselves and make a change for the community.”
Afterward, the names of victims—including many who lost their lives to domestic violence—were read aloud during a candlelight vigil.
“Don’t leave it here,” Wilmoth told attendees after a moment of silence. “Take these lights and let it shine in the world that we live in. Stand up for anyone that has been a victim and a victor of of domestic violence and sexual assault.”
Tri-County Safe Harbor serves victims of domestic violence in Delta, Schoolcraft, and Menominee Counties. The nonprofit offers temporary emergency housing, support groups, advocacy, and other services. If you or someone you know is in an unsafe situation, call Tri-County Safe Harbor at (906) 789-1166. Click here for more information on Tri-County Safe Harbor.