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Sunday, June 16, 2019

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Flight to Freedom – Domestic Violence Vigil to Remember Victims & Honor Survivors

Flight to Freedom – Domestic Violence Vigil to Remember Victims & Honor Survivors


Millions of household members fall prey to violence every single day, with many going unreported to authorities. Alarmingly, every minute nearly twenty people endure physical abuse by their partner, which equals out to more than ten million women and men yearly.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence reports that on a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. Violence in the home affects everyone within its confines regardless if the abuser is committing acts of violence towards one person.

The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence reflects one in fifteen children exposed to violent acts. Moreover, 90 percent of those children exposed to domestic violence, saw the deviant act, as opposed to hearing it or other indirect forms of exposure.

In 2016, the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office answered 1,335 domestic violence-related calls with 825 protective orders issued to victims of domestic violence who were seeking protection from their perpetrator.

To bring awareness to domestic violence, The Pact Place will hold their fifth annual vigil, which will include the release of “butterflies for peace” on Tuesday, October 24th at the Lafourche Central Market in Raceland. Pam Guedry, PACT's Program Director, said, "The purpose of the Butterflies of Hope, Flight to Freedom event is to honor the memory of those victims who died because of domestic violence. We will also honor victims who are surviving every day in their homes of violence, and celebrate the survivors who have left the abuse and are now living violence free."

Pam went on to explain, "The release of the butterflies is almost symbolic of the struggle survivors of domestic violence go through to break free from their cocoon of violence. It is a symbol of the transformation and hope."

One of the sponsors of the event, The Haven, is an organization whose mission is to empower survivors of family violence and sexual assault to live safe, independent, and violence-free lives. The Haven remains dedicated to breaking the cycle of violence by changing attitudes and beliefs for all people to live free from the threat of violence.

The organization offers prevention and outreach services such as the Lunch and Learn series, which is open to the public. The session takes place at the First United Methodist Church in Houma on the last Friday of every month at noon and provides insight and education to the community on issues related to domestic violence and sexual assault.

The Haven also offers prevention lessons to students from Pre K through college age. For example, Pre K through second-grade school children learns through an interactive story time that "hands are not for hitting." Sixth grade through eighth-grade students receive the lessons, which assist adolescents in developing positive social skills and build healthy relationships.

Ninth through twelfth-grade students learn about dating violence, and how to develop healthy relationships and college-aged young adults learn the dynamics of domestic violence and sexual assault. Topic examples include the relationship spectrum, stalking, intimate partner violence, and acquaintance rape. To learn more about age-appropriate lessons, please visit

For those who may be interested in volunteering, there are many ways to do so at The Haven. Snacks are always in need for their Trauma Group and Children's Group. Meals are also a great way to help the women and children currently staying at the shelter. Organize a drive at your place of employment, church or with family, donate clothing, or show your support at local events.

Lafourche Parish President, James Cantrelle signed a proclamation naming October domestic violence awareness month. The announcement reads in part, "It is important to recognize the compassion and dedication of the individuals who provide services to victims of domestic violence and work to increase public awareness of domestic violence and is prevalent, and to eliminate it through prevention and education. Lafourche parish has a moral obligation to work to prevent violence and to address its brutal and destructive effects.”

Cantrelle also dubbed October 24 as domestic violence awareness day. On this day, President Cantrelle urges all citizens to wear purple to show their support in the work to end domestic violence.

The Flight for Freedom, Butterflies for Hope vigil is open to the public and will begin at 6:00 pm, Tuesday, October 24th at the Lafourche Central Market at 4484 Highway 1 in Raceland. The guest speaker at the event is 2015’s Miss Louisiana, Candice Marie Bennatt JD. For more information, please call 985-532-4360 or email

If you or someone you know, is a victim of domestic violence call the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Social Services department at 985-449-4476 or by contacting The Haven at 985-872-0757.