The Joplin community rallies around one another to spread awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault.
Kayla Pekarek, a survivor and advocate for domestic violence, held the first annual candlelight vigil at Mercy Park. Family, friends, and survivors took turns sharing their experiences and lighting candles in memory of victims, as well as participating in a balloon launch. Since statistics show that one in three women and one in four men experience domestic violence at some point in their lifetime, Pekarek wants to share her story.
“I feel like it hopefully empowers other people. I had my story out on the front page of the Joplin Globe last year and so like I said I just want people to know this is what domestic violence looks like. It has no expiration, it has no beginning, it has no definitive pattern, it can be a person regardless,” says Kayla Pekarek.
Pekarek hopes to make this candlelight vigil an annual event and wants to start a nonprofit for victims of domestic violence.