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Hundreds walk to support the Willow Domestic Violence Center

Randy Gorbman/WXXI News

Hundreds of people walked in support of the Willow Domestic Violence Center on Sunday.

It was not only a fundraiser, but a way for participants to show emotional support for each other.

Willow president and CEO Meaghan de Chateauvieux noted that during 1.3 mile walk downtown the organization also provided counselors, who were on standby, partly because some of the  domestic violence survivors were dealing with a range of emotions, brought to the surface by being among so many other people with similar stories to tell.

Among them, a co-chair of Sunday’s Walk with Willow, Kesha Carter, who didn’t want to only talk about surviving domestic violence, but she says she’s now in a place where she’s thriving, and Carter is hoping other victims of domestic violence can get to that same place. 

Carter said that even with domestic violence getting a more public airing in recent years, too many victims are still afraid to talk about it.

“(They) are made to feel that it's their fault that something is happening, instead of being able to understand that there is help for them. And I think once we start to normalize the conversations around what good relationships are, and what good love feels like, then people will be more likely to come forward and have and talk about things,” Carter said.

De Chateauvieux said that sharing their stories with other is important for domestic violence victims.

“The incredible complication too, is that it's your most intimate relationship often times, you know, the other parent of your children and, and so there can be a lot of shame in coming forward with domestic abuse.” De Chateauvieux added that,  “just to know that Willow has free and confidential services and will never tell you what to do. You’re the expert in your own life, and we're here to help walk with you.”

The Walk with Willow Event is also a fundraising event, one which they could not hold in person last year due to the pandemic. Organizers expect to raise more than $50,000 for a variety of programs including a hotline, emergency shelters and counseling services.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.