Raleigh, N.C. — About 50 people showed up in downtown Raleigh Wednesday afternoon for a silent march against domestic violence – a turnout that some say indicates the need to keep the issue in the public eye.
The march, organized by the Wake County Domestic Violence Task Force, was in response to three recent homicides in Wake County that authorities have determined were the result of domestic violence.
Sherry Howard, 50, died in May, Nancy Margarita Pedraza, 23, died in June, and Marisol Mendoza Rojas died this month.
Last year in Wake County, four deaths were attributed to domestic violence, according to the North Carolina Department of Justice.
"It saddens me to see the response to the march," said Rene Raeford. "There are not a lot of people here today, and in 2012, I can't believe we're still keeping this in the closet."
Raeford's sister, Yvette Raeford, was a teacher who was killed in a 2005 murder-suicide at the hands of her ex-boyfriend.
"We were very close, and it's devastating, still today," Raeford said. "It hurts me. I guess I would feel a lot better if we were more ahead with what's happening with domestic violence and trying to make a better change."
Cynthia Foxx lost her daughter, Tiana Williams, in July 2002, after Williams' fiancé fatally shot her.
The 21-year-old had just graduated from Meredith College in Raleigh and was getting ready for medical school at East Carolina University on a full scholarship.
"She did not anticipate being murdered by someone who professed to love and care for her," Foxx said. "Her death has changed our entire family and community. Needless to say, we refuse to remain silent."
According to the state justice department, domestic violence deaths in the state have dropped since 2008, when 137 people died, but that number has fluctuated in recent years. In 2009, 99 people died; 107 died in 2010; and 106 died last year.
North Carolina is currently ranked fourth in the nation in homicides committed by men against women, says Leigh Duque, executive director of InterAct of Wake County, a nonprofit that promotes awareness and offers counseling, education, support and shelter for victims of domestic violence.
"It is absolutely critical for us to create awareness about the issue of domestic violence," she said. "This is everybody's business. This isn't someone else's problem."
Duque says she hopes that with marches, like Wednesday's, her group and others are creating greater awareness and that people will reach out for help more than ever.
"Domestic violence is often called the silent crime, and it is just critical that we remain silent no more about this issue," she said. "The march today was silent in honor of and in memory of (the latest victims). However, our call to action at the end of the march was to go forth and be silent no more."