TAMPA - As we continue to Take Action against Domestic Violence, we're taking you to the Gift of Peace Luncheon to benefit The Spring of Tampa Bay. It was emotional and raw reminder of why we need to support our local domestic violence shelters and the families who run there for help.
"He shot me right here. My son panicked and he ran to the front door and he shot him too." A room of our 400 guests sat in silence, stunned, some teary eyed, as a mother and victim of domestic violence described the day the father of her kids shattered her world. "I could see my daughter running from her father. He caught up to her. He shot her too."
Patty Para Perez survived. Her two children did not. Her story is just one shared by brave members of our community - despite the difficulty of standing before their peers and reliving tragic and frightening moments. Each shared for different reasons.
For the publisher of the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Bridgette Mill, it's too erase any stigma that comes with speaking out. "If you hear no other message today this is it. Thanks to ABC, I think its getting better with shattering the silence. A victim shouldn't feel that way. We shouldn't be afraid to be judged. And we always do. And we have to change that. "
For Don Mays it's to shed light on the littlest victims of domestic violence - kids who have no choice but to live in a violent home. "Night after night, fighting yelling and crying. A whole lot of crazy. A lot of crazy." Don sits on the board of The Spring and knows how important an emergency shelter for families is. Today's luncheon helped raise money for The Spring and the programs that help the abused make that transition from victim to survivor.
Another survivor had this advice to anyone who might be in a violent situation right now. Have a survivor plan. Pack a bag, have some money hidden, know where you will go if you have to run because the violence escalates. The Spring is one of those places, so have their crisis line number handy. That number is 813-247-SAFE.