14th annual ‘A Walk in Their Shoes’ Domestic Violence Awareness event in Roanoke, honoring victims and survivors of abuse

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The 14th annual ‘A Walk in Their Shoes’ Domestic Violence Awareness event was held Friday afternoon at Straight Street in Roanoke.

The event honored victims and survivors of domestic abuse. The event included a reading of names of women, men, and children of the Roanoke Valley who lost their lives as a result of senseless violence.

Attendees also had the chance to participate in a walk of solidarity as a symbol of their commitment to not be a silent witness to the violence happening in their community.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but Total Action for Progress (TAP) Director Stacey Sheppard says this topic needs more recognition throughout the year.

“While we get to talk about that in October, we really should talk about it more often than October,” said Sheppard.

Sheppard stated since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the organization has been averaging 10 to 12 domestic abuse calls daily, which is up from the two to three calls before the pandemic.

For anyone dealing with domestic violence, she recommends creating a strategic plan to get out of the abusive situation.

“Plan to get out. That process is the most dangerous part. We want people to understand that. That’s why safety planning, having an advocate to help through that process, and having folks that know what they’re doing help you through that process is important,” stressed Sheppard. “Safety planning is gathering documents, grabbing keys, money, and clothes stashed away to make sure you have a proper plan to get out.”

One woman, who now works for TAP, was previously helped by TAP to get out of her own abusive situation. Cristina Moraza is now a survivor and has this advice to share with anyone who is still in an abusive relationship.

“I work for TAP and am honored to helped people in the same situation I was in seven years ago,” said Moraza. “Don’t give up. You can get out of the relationship and get a better life.”

According to TAP, over the last year, it has helped more than 60 families relocate to escape domestic violence.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, almost 34 percent of women in Virginia will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. Virginia State Police estimates there are 31,000 protective orders on file at any given time.

If anyone is in an abusive relationship you are encouraged to call the TAP 24/7 hotline. Their phone number is 540-580-0075.

You can visit TAP’s website for more resources.

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