ELIZABETHTOWN — Families First Inc. held its annual Breaking the Silence Rally on Wednesday. The rally was originally scheduled to take place on the front lawn of the courthouse, but due to the threat of rain and chilly temps, the rally was moved indoors to the Bladen County Superior Court Room.
The rally is held each year in honor of the victims of domestic violence and their families, said Executive Director Vickie Pait.
The keynote speaker for the evening was Eather Mitchell who shared her personal story of being a victim of domestic violence.
“I am a survivor of domestic violence. My ex-husband, at that time, was a deputy,” said Mitchell. She declined to reveal her ex-husband’s name or which department he was working for at the time.
She said that acts of domestic violence are committed all persons, including people of upstanding positions.
“A lot of people think it’s unimportant until it knocks on their back door,” said Mitchell of the abuse.
She shared her story about the time when her then-husband tried to kill her and their 4-year-old daughter by running their car off the road. She recalled that she and her daughter were in one vehicle and her husband attended the event in a separate vehicle and proceeded on the way home to try to cause her vehicle to crash. Mitchell recalled that was her “wake-up call.”
She recounted how her mother passed away during that time and she was unable to grieve her loss due to the situation she was in at home.
“A couple of years after I had gotten away from him and separated, I was able to go to her grave and … grieve,” said Mitchell. “Our heart is our eyes and our ears. Pay attention to what your heart is telling you.”
She also encouraged those in attendance, if they know of someone in a domestic violence situation, to report it. Mitchell recounted how her husband thought because he had been employed as a law enforcement officer for so long, he could get around the law.
“”I knew it was time to act when it involved my 4-year-old daughter,” said Mitchell. “He lost his career.”
She added that he blamed her for the loss of his job.
Mitchell said after that occurred, she has since turned her life around. She has returned to school earned a bachelor’s degree and is working towards achieving her master’s degree. She is employed with Bladen County Schools.
Pait shared some sobering statistics with those in attendance.
“So far this year, there have been 31 domestic violence-related murders reported to the domestic violence agencies as domestic violence murders,” said Pait.
Of those 31 domestic violence-related murders committed this year, two occurred in Columbus County and one in Bladen County, according to Pait.
“We can no longer accept this,” said Pait. “We as a community must stand up to this and say no more.”
Also, the Elizabethtown Baptist Church Youth Choir performed the song “Temporary Home.”
Pait and Marjorie Walker, also of Families First, recognized three organizations for their support with the “Good Guy Award.” Honored for their assistance with Christmas gifts for children were Boy Scout Troop 600, the Elizabethtown Fire Department and the Elizabethtown Rotary Club.