Domestic violence survivors to share stories at speak-out

LAWRENCEVILLE - Speaking out about being abused likely isn't easy for anyone who has experienced such a violation of personal dignity and trust.

Vanessa Kinsey shares her story because she is a survivor and she hopes to help lift other women out of abusive situations and raise awareness of domestic violence with her personal testimony.

"I believe that through God's intervention it is my mission to bring awareness with any agency on the state, local or government level to let people know there is an epidemic of violence occurring," Kinsey said.

The former Gwinnett resident will speak about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her high school sweetheart and husband of 10 years, who is now incarcerated, that eventually left her permanently disabled.

Kinsey and others will share their stories of overcoming abuse at Partnership Against Domestic Violence's seventh annual Domestic Violence Survivor Speak-Out on Thursday.

"Their stories are really powerful and amazing," said Cathy Willis Spraetz, CEO of PADV. "I would encourage people in Gwinnett County to come out to this event. It's a very powerful and moving experience. (Those who attend) will not be disappointed."

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation reported 55,000 cases of family violence in the state of Georgia in 2007. Gwinnett County had the highest number of women murdered by a man of any other county in both 2006 and 2005, and in the past nine-and-a-half months, eight people in Gwinnett have lost their lives as a result of domestic violence.

With those statistics in mind, "we just want to have a call to action and have people come and witness a very moving experience," Spraetz said of the Domestic Violence Survivor Speak-Out.

A "Remember My Name" ceremony will be held during Thursday's event in which the name of every individual who has died as a result of domestic violence in Georgia will be called, including children and others who have been caught in the crossfire of violent situations.

Those who attend Thursday's event will each be given a red carnation with a victim's name attached. When each name is called, the person holding that flower will place it in a vase, until the vase is filled.

"There's a connection between the flowers and lives that were unnecessarily lost and cut too soon," Spraetz said.

Thursday's event will begin at 11 a.m. and will be held at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville. For more information or to RSVP for the event, call 404-870-9605.

SideBar: If You Go

· What: Domestic Violence Survivor Speak-Out

· When: 11 a.m. to noon Thursday

· Where: Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville

· For more information: Call 404-870-9605