NORFOLK, Va. — Tuesday night, people from Hampton Roads came together to remember victims of violence. Specifically, domestic violence.
A small crowd gathered in Norfolk to talk about the big problem.
"I’m sad because there are so many people outside and so few people inside. I guess that’s an indication of the level of importance we’ve assigned to such a serious concern as this," one pastor told the crowd.
'Mothers Against Crime' organized a vigil to honor those lost to violence.
Last year, more than 160 people were murdered in the seven cities.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, more than 30% of homicides in the commonwealth are domestic violence-related.
56% of those involved guns.
Melissa Merritt said she was almost a part of that statistic.
"I’ve experienced that firsthand on so many levels. And I know what it’s like to battle with depression. I know what it’s like to go through abuse," she said. "There were times where my abuser would be beating me up so bad that I thought I was gonna die."
Now out of the abusive relationship and a recovering drug addict, she wants to tell people who are in similar situations that things can be better.
"I wanted to tell my story and give somebody else experience, strength, and hope."
Another speaker, Debbie Banks, had a message for people in the crowd.
"If you know of anybody… a man is mistreating a woman, take time to help her find out where she should go for help," she says. "A lot of women die an instant death and the man said they didn’t mean it, but they are in an abusive relationship."
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, you can call the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Abuse Action Alliance at 1-800-838-8238.
There is also an option to text with an advocate at 804-793-9999.