Candlelight vigil honors local victims, survivors of domestic violence

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BERWICK, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

A candlelight vigil was held tonight in Columbia County to honor local victims and survivors. Nearly 100 names of domestic violence victims from Columbia and Luzerne Counties were read aloud Tuesday night.

Dozens gathered for an evening of solemn remembrance inside the Berwick Theatre and Center for Community Arts.

“I can promise you that if it wasn’t over when it was, I would be one of the names you would be reading tonight because I would not be here,” Nescopeck resident Brandy Switzer, a domestic abuse survivor, said.

Switzer says she suffered emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her ex-husband. She shared her story to the public for the first time.

“I had a gun to my head. I was called literally everything you can possibly dream up to be called and basically told that I was not worthy of anything,” Switzer said. “I had come to the realization that I was either going to be killed by him or kill myself.”

Switzer got out of the the abusive relationship, but not everyone can. Help, however, is available to anyone suffering in silence. Providing support and safety to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault is the mission of the non-profit “Beyond Violence” in Berwick.

“Our organization does protection against abuse orders to help for men and women that are experiencing domestic violence. But we also are a shelter and we could shelter nine families for women and children that have gone through domestic violence,” Beyond Violence’s Samantha Scoblink said.

Switzer says taking the first step to get help wasn’t easy. She offers this advice:

“Be there for them even if you can’t help them because they’re not there yet. And let them know that you’re there to support them regardless if they’re ready for help,” Switzer said.

If you or a loved one are in an abusive relationship, organizations like “Beyond Violence” are there to help. For links and information, pcadv.org or dhs.pa.gov.

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