Vigil held for 10 million victims of domestic violence - WNEM TV 5

Vigil held for 10 million victims of domestic violence

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BAY CITY, MI (WNEM) -

The violence is escalating and the numbers are staggering.

More than 10 million women and men are abused at the hands of their partners in the United States each year. One in three women and one in four men have been victims of physical violence by a partner in their lifetime.

Wednesday, survivors and supporters came together to call for an end to this vicious cycle at a vigil in Bay City.

"Don't stay. Because the thing is he doesn't change and you cannot change him,” said Dot Rifenbark, a survivor of domestic violence.

Rifenbark was in an abusive marriage for 23 years.

“So, at the age of 54, I left and came back home to Bay City,” she said.

It’s where she found new friends and support at the Bay Area Women’s Center. Now, 11 years later, her story is one of 500 remembered on t-shirts displayed at the vigil.

A story she is happy to share with women who are in similar situations.

“Twenty-three years is a very long time. That's the reason I come here this evening is to lend support and inspiration to other women. To show them that you too can do what I did,” Rifenbark said.

Samantha Christie works at the Women's Center. She said that’s is exactly what tonight's vigil is all about.

“A lot of times victims and survivors feel embarrassed and they feel ashamed of their story, but tonight is a chance to share their story and celebrate who they are and their story because it's not something they should be ashamed of,” she said.

Survivors like Rifenbark said they now know that sharing is healing and to be healed is to be free.

“It's been 11 years now of total freedom to do what I want, go where I want and be the person I want to be,” she said.

The center offers services to women, men and children - all free of charge.

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