On Thursday, October 28, Safe Havens hosted our second annual interfaith virtual vigil. The theme of this years’ vigil was Silence Hides Violence, emphasizing the silence surrounding domestic violence in all of our communities. As the Life Together Fellow, organizing our vigil was one of my tasks. While I had thrown different events in the past, I had never organized a religious event or an event focusing on domestic violence. Naturally I was a little worried.
In case you missed our vigil (or if you want to experience it again) click on this image to download the recording of our Silence Hides Violence Vigil. Join us in honoring those who died this year as a result of abuse and celebrating those who have survived.
In reflection though, I am so glad that I took on a task full of unknowns. Not only was the process really rewarding, but the end result was very powerful. The thing that I found most insightful from organizing this vigil came from conversations with my colleague, Rev. Dr. Anne Marie Hunter. We were reviewing the first draft of the program. When I was looking for different prayers and poems, I looked for passages that focused on peace. My thought process was that peace was the opposite of violence, and if we are striving to end domestic violence then peace is a good goal. However, Anne Marie challenged me to read the program through the lens of a survivor of domestic violence. With that lens, prayers that I initially thought were powerful turned problematic on the page. Talk of peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation, while all good goals, has the potential to put the onus on the survivor to make the peace, to reconcile the relationship, or forgive the abuser, even though the abuse is never their fault. The prayers for peace focused on creating peace from the perspective of an oppressor, rather than someone who was oppressed; from the perspective of the abuser rather than the person experiencing abuse. It made me wonder how we can pray for peace in a way that is safe, and take into account different life experiences.
Sitting on our zoom call, seeing grief-stricken faces, and hearing all of the details of the victims’ lives was incredibly powerful and emotional. It impacted me more than I thought it would since I had been thinking about honoring these victims for over a month. The thing that I found most beautiful about this vigil was the sense of community I felt with those who joined. Safe Havens reached out to different faith leaders and community partners to participate, and I was pleasantly shocked at how many people were willing to take time out of their evening not only to watch, but also to read. I truly felt that all of these people cared deeply about working to end domestic violence and were willing to stand together with Safe Havens to break the silence that hides domestic violence. I can’t wait to see what Safe Havens’ Vigil next year looks like!
Here is a copy of our program: