A somber crowd gathered at noon, Oct. 10, on the lawn of the San Juan County administrative building to honor the 47 individuals in Washington state who lost their lives last year due to domestic violence.
“Today our hearts are extra heavy, and it may be a time when we make an extra commitment,” said Kim Bryan, executive director of SAFE San Juans, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention and elimination of domestic violence and sexual assault. The crowd stood amongst the 47 silhouettes placed in the administrative building’s lawn, each representing one of those individuals.
“These silhouettes represent a person whose loved ones are still grieving, and we want to honor that,” Bryan said.
While the nonprofit has held a vigil every October – domestic violence awareness month – for over two decades, this time hit close to home. A special tribute was given to Abigail Finney, who was killed by her husband last November.
“She just sparkled, so I wore my sparkles today,” Judy Cornell told vigil attendees, pointing out her glittering shirt. Cornell had worked with Finney at Islanders Bank years ago.
According to Bryan, there has been an outpouring of calls, both wondering what they could have done to help Finney, and what they could do should a friend be in a similar situation. As a result, the organization has put together a brochure called “Helping a Friend.” The pamphlet explains what to look for, including: constant worry about upsetting their partner or making them angry; giving up things they used to enjoy such as spending time with friends or other activities; their partner always checking up by calling or texting and demanding to know whom they are with and where they have been; and having unexplainable injuries or explanations that don’t make sense.
For information on how to help a friend in a domestic violence situation, call:
- Lopez Island, 360-478-3788.
- Orcas Island, 360-376-5979.
- San Juan Island, 360-378-8680.
This was the second consecutive year the community lost a member due to domestic violence, and there have been others before that.
“Twenty-two years ago, we were right here on this very lawn, holding vigil after we lost one of our own community members, and we are still here,” said Pat Hanson, Soroptimist International of Friday Harbor founder.
For 24-hour help, call the SAFE San Juans helplines listed below:
- Lopez Island: 360-468-4567.
- Orcas Island: 360-376-1234.
- San Juan Island: 360-378-2345.