Vigil aims to help stop domestic violence

About two months ago, a woman with bruises on her arms came to Glendale’s YWCA begging to sleep in the building, as she feared going home to her husband, a convicted sex offender who abused her verbally, physically and sexually.

She didn’t speak any English and moved to the United States from Armenia with her husband, who she believed would love and care for her. She didn’t know about his criminal past or a prior divorce.

The 48-year-old is one of many who experience domestic violence every year, said YWCA Executive Director Michelle Roberts at a candlelight vigil held Thursday to raise awareness of the crime.

The woman was placed in an emergency shelter for 50 days, received legal help and now has a restraining order against her husband. She attends cosmetology school with dreams of opening her own salon, Roberts said.

“It’s a somber evening in some respects,” Roberts said as candles flickered throughout the room at the YWCA and about 120 people held candles ready to be lit. “But there is hope, and there is light.”

The YWCA and Glendale’s Commission on the Status of Women annually host the candlelight vigil in October in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

According to crime statistics from 2009 and 2010, Glendale’s domestic violence reports have remained steady at 441 and 443, respectively. From January through August of this year, there have been 311 reports, records show. The YWCA logged 1,600 calls last year at its domestic violence hotline, said Paula Devine, chair of the women’s commission.

“It’s definitely remained consistent,” said Glendale Police Det. Ernesto Gaxiola. “It’s still an issue we deal with here in Glendale.”

State Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) emphasized the prevalence of domestic violence and pointed out that although so many are affected by it, several think they’re alone in the fight.

“So many women feel like they’re the only victim of violence,” Liu said. “It’s hard to look for a light when you are lost in darkness, and today we come together to light the way.”

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