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Saheli's Candlelight Vigil For Survivors And Victims Of Domestic Violence

Savitha Rajiv

Domestic violence affects millions, both women and men, of every race, religion, culture and status. For many of us home is a safe haven, a place where you are surrounded by people who love, support and care about you. But for others it is anything but a safe haven. It is a place where they experience abuse that is not just physical, but also emotional, financial, sexual or psychological by their intimate partners, a place of pain.

Statistics show that nearly one in three women in Massachusetts has experienced some form of abuse by an intimate partner. In a one-day census collected by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) organization from 1,694 domestic violence programs across the country, 72,245 victims were served just on September 17, 2017. In addition, 20,352 Hotline calls were answered. And there are many more who are yet to come forward and seek help.

Saheli Inc. is a domestic violence prevention organization that was established in 1996 with a mission to empower South Asian women and their families to lead healthy and safe lives here in Massachusetts.
Over the past 22 years, we have provided life-saving services to thousands of survivors of domestic violence.

Saheli held a Candlelight Vigil on Friday October 5th in Burlington to honor the survivors and victims of domestic violence. Several Sahelis and members of the community gathered at the Burlington Recreation Center at sunset. Gouri Banerjee, Co-Founder and Board member of Saheli distributed candles to all those who had gathered, including Detective Anne Marie Brown, representing the Burlington Police Department, town Library Trustee Ram Voruganti and his wife Jaya Voruganti, a very active member of the community.

The crowd walked to the Burlington Police Station front lawn where Burlington resident Wendy Kahdjikian and her family had decorated the tree with purple lights. Wendy and her husband having been setting up lighting and organizing the vigil for the past five years. Special thanks to Chief Kent for giving us permission and to Wendy for lighting up the tree.

The community gathered around and placed the candles at the base of the tree in honor of the survivors of domestic violence. Wendy spoke about how healing it is for the community to come together and recognize those that have lost their lives and those that are survivors, not to forget all those still living in silence and unable to use their voices yet.

Det. Anne Marie Brown spoke about the importance of the BPD working with domestic violence agencies like REACH and Saheli to provide services to the survivors so they are able to leave their abusers. Savitha Rajiv, the Co-Executive Director of Saheli expressed thanks to Anne Marie Brown and her team for their recently safety training and for teaming up with BPD to help the victims who needed to call the police in town. She also provided statistics from a recent national survey that showed how critical and widespread the problem of domestic violence is!

Supriya Saurabh, President of Saheli shared information about Purple Purse, the online campaign fundraiser that is happening through the month of October. This fundraiser will help DV prevention organizations like Saheli and several others to provide life-saving services to survivors of domestic violence.

Saheli held the candlelight to be the voice of the survivors and the victims of domestic violence. And for those who are suffering in silence, hoping they will find the courage one day to reach out for help. Gouri Banerjee thanked all the attendees of the vigil and requested anyone who knew somebody that needed help to call Saheli. Nikita Sampath, a young volunteer who is currently working on a video project for Saheli took pictures of the vigil.

If you know someone who is being abused and needs help, or just need to talk to someone, please call Saheli’s helpline : 1-866-472-4354 or email us at : info@saheliboston.org. Visit our website for more information and the list of free and confidential services Saheli offers : www.saheliboston.org

To learn more about our Purple Purse campaign, read some of the stories of our survivors, and donate through the month of October, please visit : https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/saheli- purplepurse2018

We need your support! Thank you!

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