By Paula M. Fitzgerald/ParaglideOctober 30, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Members of the Fayetteville and Fort Bragg communities gathered at the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office Friday to remember domestic violence victims during the Remember My Name Memorial and Candlelight Vigil.
Col. Stephen J. Sicinski, Fort Bragg garrison commander, told the audience that the Army is doing its part to ensure that incidences of domestic violence stop.
"We are looking at domestic violence like a disease," Sicinski explained. "It takes away from our ability to complete missions. We have a lot of resources and training going in to help stop domestic violence, but we can't do it alone. I am here to tell you that we will stand with you and make sure the violence stops."
The event's keynote speaker, Tanisha Bagley, shared her experiences about being a survivor of an abusive relationship.
"I want to tell my story, but there are children here, so I will be as tactful as possible," Bagley said. "But I want to be as blunt as possible, too."
She described being "head over heels in love" with her boyfriend when they first met. She said everything started out "perfectly," but then things took a drastic turn when her boyfriend told her that he would kill her if she ever left him.
"I got kicked and punched, beat in the head with beer bottles and had fractured bones," she said. "I lived like that for a long time."
Bagley said she knew she had to get help during an argument with her three-year-old son.
"I told him to do something he didn't want to. Then he told me that he would tell his daddy to take me to the bedroom and beat me when he got home," said Bagley. "I knew something had to change, not just for me but for my kids."
Bagley was able to leave her abuser and get her life back on track. Today, she is an author and motivational speaker.
"I could have been on the list of people we are remembering tonight, but I was fortunate," she told the audience.
Following the ceremony's speakers, audience members headed outside of the Sheriff's Office and released balloons for each of the 71 people killed during domestic violence-related incidences in North Carolina. A 71-second of- silence was held after the final balloon was released.
"We need people to know that domestic violence is never acceptable. This sort of thing has got to stop," Bagley said.
She also urged anyone who is currently in an abusive situation to seek help immediately. Bagley said that there are many resources available to victims of domestic violence, but it is up to the abused individual to ask for assistance.
For information about domestic violence prevention, call the National Domestic Violence Help line at 1-800-799-7233.