WARREN - Jacque Adams' hand traced over the words she wrote just a few years ago when she sought refuge at Someplace Safe.
"I can't believe I found it," Adams said while breaking into a smile. "I'm a lot stronger now. It's amazing now when I think about it."
Adams said she wrote "REFUSE TO BE A VICTIM" - now part of a survivors quilt - boldly as a plea to herself and others to value themselves.
"Getting out of a violent relationship isn't always easy, and no one says that it is," she explained. "But it's better than staying. It's better than being hurt and afraid. It's better than allowing your kids to stay in the situation. I had to get out. I couldn't do that to my kids."
Adams, who has two young sons, was among the people who gathered Monday night at Courthouse Square in downtown Warren for Someplace Safe's Unity Day. The event, in its 18th year, is held every October in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. About 50 people attended and lit candles in remembrance of victims and to recognize survivors.
Adams said the abuse started when she was two months pregnant with her first son.
Jacque Adams of Girard, holding her son, Vladamyre, 1, as her son, Gregory, 3, looks on, attends Someplace Safe’s 18th annual Unity Day on Monday at Courthouse Square in Warren. Photo by Virginia Shank
"There's help out there," she said. "You can find it. You just have to take that step."
Sheri Jervis, a Newton Falls police officer and the keynote speaker of Monday's event, said that she believes that at times God "hand picks people for hardships" and turns "those who are hopeless into heroes."
Jervis shared her testimony of surviving domestic violence.
"The cycle does not get better," she said "It only gets worse. But there is help to those who seek it."
The evening included lighting a candle of memorial, a candle of struggle, another of hope and finally one of unity.
Linda Baer-Bigley, director of Someplace Safe, explained that the purpose of the program is to mourn those who have died, celebrate those who have survived, and connect with those who work to end domestic violence.
"A big part of this is to support survivors and to allow them to be with other survivors and give them an opportunity to support each other," she said.
Someplace Safe is a private, nonprofit agency in Warren that provides 24-hour emergency shelter and crisis intervention to victims of domestic violence and their dependent children. According to its mission statement, the agency seeks to eradicate domestic violence and improve the quality of life by providing advocacy, education and supportive services in order to aid families and to achieve public awareness and a unified community response.
Victims of domestic violence can reach the Someplace Safe 24/7 hotline by calling 330-393-3005.