Irving — Hosted by the City of Irving Family Advocacy Center, Illuminate Irving raised awareness of domestic violence and honored both victims and survivors.
Visitors could walk along the Mandalay Canal browsing merchant booths as well as city and privately run domestic counseling organizations during the Oct. 15 event. Artwork created by local students depicted the feelings, emotions, and thoughts about domestic violence occurrences.
In 2018, 211 people died due to domestic violence in Texas, representing the highest recorded number of domestic violence-related deaths in Texas in the last decade. The Irving Police Department processes over 200 domestic violence cases each month. Experts estimate more than 60 percent of domestic violence cases go unreported. Illuminate Irving raised awareness of domestic violence in the community as well as honoring both victims and survivors.
“The word ‘illuminate’ to me, really rings a bell,” Irving councilman Oscar Ward said. “It helps spread the word to those you may know; relatives or friends who may be having a family dispute of some sort.”
Laroya Compton shared her story of domestic violence along with signs to look out for and ways to help.
“[Domestic violence] is not just something that’s physical,” Compton said. “It could be a number of things. It can be mental, emotional, psychological. There are so many different aspects that go along with domestic violence.
“We need to keep in mind there a number of resources out there to help on our journey. When you have your plan, follow it. You may not make it the first time; or the second time, but follow your plan and get out. Do not procrastinate, because it could mean the difference between life and death.”
Visitors were encouraged to create a paper lantern to honor loved ones. The lanterns were released from boats at sunset and floated on the water to freedom.
Representatives from the Mid-Cities chapter of the Links Organization attended the event in partnership with Brighter Tomorrows to support all of the victims of domestic violence.
“We want people to know they’re not alone,” Carolyn Roberson, a representative of Links, said. “If you work with women and they come in late a lot, they have bruises, they become withdrawn, a little different than they were last week, then there’s probably something at home that’s driving that. You don’t want to confront them on anything, but you want to let them know you care.”
Many visitors honored specific loved ones lost to domestic violence. Others honored themselves or their family and friends as survivors.
The Adams family wore shirts with a photo of their lost loved ones.
“This is my daughter. She was 19,” Connie Adams said. “She and [her boyfriend] were killed together, because he was trying to protect her. He died protecting her.”
The feelings of sadness, regret, and relief could be felt through the crowds as each lantern floated on the water. The evening convened with hugs and words of encouragement from visitors, volunteers, and officials.