Vigil illuminates domestic violence

The Family Support Council conducted its annual candlelight vigil on Thursday at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center.

The Family Support Council conducted its annual candlelight vigil on Thursday at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

Domestic violence is a fact of life in Douglas County, with law enforcement responding to an average of nearly a dozen incidents a week during 2022, according to figures provided by the Family Support Council.

Around one survivor is aided every two days through the Special Victims Response Team comprised of the Douglas County District Attorney’s and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

On Thursday, the Council conducted its annual candlelight vigil in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“The candlelight vigil has a long history at the Family Support Council,” said Domestic Violence Program Director Jenn Forzani. “It’s a much different picture than it was back then. It was a very dark and somber event. It was based around sadness and fear.”

She said that fear prevents people from speaking openly about it.

“Domestic violence is something we tend not to discuss,” she said. “It’s in every community and it shouldn’t have the stigma that it does. The more we talk about it, the more we can rally against it.”

The first candlelight vigil was held Oct. 5, 1998. The vigil continued until 2008 and then took a five-year break.

“It was very much in the same kind of temperature that it was,” Forzani said. “We wanted to change that painting, change that picture.  We wanted to focus on health, community and strength. We wanted to focus on survivors. There is life after domestic violence.”

The Council has been helping Carson Valley families since January 1982, operating a 13-bed confidential shelter that provided 1,100 bed nights during 2022.

“The shelter is in desperate need of repair and renovations, to include new flooring and interior and exterior paint,” Executive Director Veronica LaChance said.

That costs the nonprofit $13,750 to house women and children last year.

The council operates a crisis line active 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has seven staffers in their domestic violence team.

“The mission of Family Support Council is to provide education, intervention, and prevention services to support the growth and development of healthy families,” she said. “The Family Support Council is always going through periods of transition and change but our true mission remains the same; to eradicate family violence.”

LaChance said raising awareness of domestic violence is a critical issue.

“Domestic violence can no longer be a silent crime,” she said. “It is through the voice and of our community members and survivors that we can rise up.”

She said that’s one of the reasons they light a candle.

“Events like (Thursday) allow us to step out of the shadows and share with our community what true support, collaboration, and effectiveness it takes to put an end to this terrible crime,” she said. ”It is up to all of us to change the narrative.”


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