New public awareness campaign works to break the silence against domestic violence

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Friday, September 22, 2023
New campaign works to break the silence against domestic violence
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According to the NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence so far this year there have been 53 domestic violence-related homicides in the state.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Melody Gross is a motivational speaker and trainer, who helps women find their voice. She describes herself as a disrupter.

"I'm a disrupter of domestic violence," she said.

It's violence that once had her trapped in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship for years.

"I remember distinctly saying, that can never happen to me. It did, it absolutely did," Gross reflected.

She described the moment when she could visibly see the violence.

"I found myself on crutches. Because when I tried to leave out the door, he picked me up and threw me to the ground. And so, I sprained my ankle. And that was really devastating to me because then you can see it," she said.

For three years Gross endured the abuse but finally found the strength to leave.

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"I had to realize, I absolutely can do it on my own. And I don't need to be with someone who's going to harm me or make me feel like I'm unsafe," she said.

But not everyone makes it out of domestic violence relationships alive. According to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence so far this year there have been 53 domestic violence-related homicides in North Carolina. Last year there were 47 deaths.

"It is concerning to me that we're not even in October yet. And the numbers are already more than last year. And that's for homicides, not just assaults but homicides," said Christiana Johnson, staff attorney for Legal Aid of North Carolina.

The group has helped with 7,000 domestic violence cases last year which ranged from representation to advice and safety.

"I've had the privilege of helping many women get to safety, and just seeing how domestic violence has silenced them, how it's made them have to quit their jobs or get fired, how it's affected them having their kids or their kids being safe. It's isolated them from their community," Johnson said.

Now Legal Aid of North Carolina is going further in their efforts to silence the stigma associated with domestic violence and inform people about the resources that are available if they need help. The organization launched a new PSA narrated by domestic violence survivors like Gross, who are using their voices to speak out against domestic violence in their communities.

"Domestic violence isn't talked about enough, because of a lot of reasons. But we need to highlight it so that people can realize this is an issue in my community. This affects me because it affects my community. It's not just the victim," said Johnson.

Next month, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Legal Aid of North Carolina is also releasing a documentary highlighting the journeys survivors like Gross take to reclaim their lives.

"I don't mind telling my story. I don't mind speaking up. And I don't mind sharing that this is traumatic. But there are resources that we have in this community that we can use," she said.

You can also take action in your community and help break the silence by taking a pledge to speak out against domestic violence. The pledge is also a part of Legal Aid's new campaign.

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