If you or someone you know experiences domestic violence, The Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma offers free services, including counseling and crisis services. The 24 hour Crisis Hotline number is (580) 226-6424.
Domestic violence isn’t something that most people find very easy to talk about. However, the Family Shelter of Oklahoma is looking to open the conversation with a candlelight vigil celebrating survivors, remembering victims and honoring those who have not broken free yet.
Family Shelter Director Kathy Manning said the vigil is a part of a month-long community effort to educate and raise public awareness about domestic violence in partnership with the local Domestic Violence Task Force.
Community members are invited to take part in the vigil from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15 at Central Park, located at E Street SW in Ardmore. Assistant District Attorney Melissa Handke and State Rep. Tammy Townley will speak at the vigil in addition to two domestic violence survivors, Manning said.

“I think that when you are surrounded by supportive people that are willing to talk about it, I feel like it starts breaking down those barriers,” Manning said. “They may not feel like they can talk about it right then, but to hear other people’s stories and to know that there are people in the community that are wanting to support them, I think that does eventually break down the barrier.”

In addition to speakers, the Children’s Choir will be serenading the crowd and a booth will be set up where individuals can have a purple domestic violence awareness ribbon painted on their face, Manning said.

Several local agencies will also have informational tables set up at the vigil, Manning said. These tables will provide individuals with various community resources that can help connect victims and survivors with counseling and services they may be interested in.

“A lot of times people ask, ‘Well, what is it that I can do?’ They can really do so much,” Manning said. “You as a family member, a community member, a friend — if somebody comes to you and talks to you about it, to actually be that supportive ear and to listen without judgement. Those are very important pieces of what we will share at the vigil.”

Any additional agencies that would like to have an informational table at the candlelight vigil can contact the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma administration office at 580-226-3750.