Candle-lit vigil returns after two-year absence

By Soleil Cardenas

As a conclusion to Domestic Violence awareness month, East Los Angeles Women’s Center held its 25th annual Domestic Violence candlelight vigil. 

The event has not been held in person in over two years due to COVID-19.

The performing arts courtyard had a Sexual Assault Awarness and Violence Education team and Spirit Family Canter booths in attendance for the event. 

Both booths strived to bring more awareness and be a resource for the community. 

SAAVE team offered pamphlets regarding information on Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination. 

Spirit Family Center wanted to show their alliance with ELAWC and make it clear that they are another resource for the community and safe space for those who seek help. 

An ofrenda (Dia de Los Muertos altar) is set up in the performing arts courtyard honoring victims and advocates as well as featuring domestic violence victim statistics  and inspirational quotes. 

The event started off as a march in remembrance of all those who have lost their lives to domestic violence. 

Participants marched from the corner of Mednik and Cesar Chavez Avenue, down to Collegian Avenue and into the performing arts courtyard. 

On Thursday night a group of over 50 participants made the march by carrying signs and candles while chanting. 

Signs being carried read “Love shouldn’t hurt,”  “No estas sola” and “Silence is Violence.” 

The participants were led by Danza Azteca Xochipilli, an indigenous dance group. 

Danza Azteca Xochipilli banged on drums as they walked down Avenida Cesar Chavez and into the performing arts courtyard. 

Participants chanted at the top of their lungs to end domestic violence. 

Once in the courtyard, Danza Azteca Xochipilli kicked off the activities with an indigenous ceremony. 

Following the ceremony Babra Kappos, ELAWC Executive Director, greeted attendees and shared the importance of domestic violence awareness.

 Kappos held a moment of silence to remember those who have lost their lives. 

Kappos emphasized that domestic violence should not be tolerated and one month of awareness and support is not enough. It needs to be all year round. 

“You are the solution. Not the politicians or the media, you are the solution. 

“You can bring awareness and attention and break the cycle of violence within our communities and all communities,” Kappos said. 

Kappos then opened up the floor for survivors to share their testimonials and poetry with the audience. 

At this time, candles were passed out and lit for audience members. 

Domestic violence survivor Yolanda Velasequez, shared a poem named “The Privilege” with the audience that brought many to tears. 

Velasequez’s poem describes how her abuser had power over her and the privilege of having her but he no longer has the privilege. 

Maria Sanchez, Los Angeles soul artist who also goes by Groovy MS, then played several original songs as well as covers. 

To end her set Sanchez performed a cover of  “Angel Baby” by Rosie and The Originals. Many attendees sang along as Sanchez encouraged the audience. 

During this final song Sanchez passed out purple flowers as she sang to the audience. 

The color purple, being the color for domestic violence awareness, was displayed throughout the event. 

To conclude the event, ELAWC promotoras (Hispinac/Latino community members who have received special training and provide information surrounding domestic violence to the community) shared a poem.

 The main message was “No te rindas,” meaning don’t give up, which they chanted several times.

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