October became National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in 1981. Around twenty years ago, an annual vigil was started in Williamsburg to give voice and support to surviving victims of domestic violence and to remember those victims whose lives ended due to domestic violence. In recent years the vigil begins at separate points and the separate groups march to unite as one at the 90th Precinct.
Continental Army Plaza (South 4th and Roebling) and the Emma Feliciano Building (140 Johnson Ave.) were the starting points this year. The Emma Feliciano Building is a consistent nexus for this candlelight vigil as a way to honor the building’s namesake,
who died at the hands of her husband. She and Nancy des Grottess (who also lost her life from domestic abuse) worked at St. Nicks Alliance, and St. Nicks Alliance led in creating an annual memorial. The candlelight vigil came together with the support of Southside United H.D.F.C– Los Sures and North Brooklyn Coalition Against Family Violence.
Statistics reveal that 1 in 4 women will be abused at the hands of a loved one. Because abusers use silence as a weapon, marchers to the vigil raise their voices and shouted: “Break the Silence! Stop the Violence!” in English and Spanish. At each vigil those who had been abused told their stories to give strength and information to those still living with domestic violence to get out. This year some signs said, “I Believe You!” as a call out the continual struggle for women to be believed and heard.