By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
TEN years ago, Shavone Munnings lost her sister, Tiffany, in a domestic violence incident.
Despite her pain, she is determined to raise awareness about domestic abuse and save other battered women before it is too late.
Ms Munnings, founder of Fallen Angels, holds a candlelight prayer vigil every year in memory of her sister and other victims in a bid to help encourage other women to leave abusive relationships.
This year’s vigil will take place on Saturday at the Richard Gaitor Park in the Pioneer Loop Subdivision in Grand Bahama.
“In spite of the tremendous pain, I am willing to use her painful memory to empower others who may be going though a similar situation before it gets too far,” said Ms Munnings.
On May 24, 2005, Tiffany Smith-LaRoda, a 30-year-old mother of four, was stabbed 26 times during a domestic dispute.
Since her sister’s death, Ms Munnings has dedicated her time to getting the message out about domestic violence. She is also committed to establishing Tiffany’s Haven, a shelter for battered women and their children.
She said that persons should not stay in abusive situations. “A lot of people may think it will never get (deadly), but unfortunately it can. And my sister has left behind four children…without her guidance. It hurts and I do not want this to happen to anyone,” she added.
Ms Munnings is inviting all pastors, groups, organisations, community members, and individuals who have also lost loved ones “to this demon that sits boldly in our society” to support the vigil.
“This message and movement is far beyond my sister and me. This is something that God has placed in my heart. I truly believe that together we can make a difference. If I can reach one person my effort and her death would not be in vain.”
Ms Munnings said her dream is to open a facility for battered women and their children because there are not many places for them to go.
She said domestic violence abuse negatively affects children who witness these situations. “Children learn what they see and now we see why our crime rate is so high. Women need to love themselves and realise that it’s okay to walk out, and start over; don’t let anyone tell you have to stay in a bad relationship,” she said.
Rev Peter Pinder, president of Grand Bahama Christian Council, said he supports the vigil and is calling on churches and pastors to do so as well.
“This is another prayer effort reflecting on what has taken place in the life of an individual which is also very typical of what happens in our community. This is a good opportunity for us as a church to stand in solidarity with those who stand against violence, and to pray for peace and better relationships in our community,” he said.