The day was waning outside the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday as a crowd gathered by the front entrance.
The subject that brought them to this spot was the dark matter of domestic violence, but folks held in their hands a little spot of light.
The gathering was for the annual candlelight vigil in honor of domestic violence victims and to raise awareness of domestic violence. The light was from the candles that gatherers held.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and the Salvation Army Domestic Violence Program organized the vigil.
There were 3,300 reported cases of domestic violence in Pasco last year, according to the sheriff’s office. That’s 5.8 percent lower than the year before. But it’s still a problem.
Sheriff Chris Nocco spoke to the crowd about domestic violence. He cited a statistic from a 2003 report that said the cost of partner violence annually exceeds $5.8 billion in the U.S.
Men exposed to physical abuse, sexual abuse and adult domestic violence as kids are almost four times as likely to perpetrate domestic violence as adults, according to a statistic from a National Network to End Domestic Violence fact sheet. Children exposed to violence are more likely to attempt crime, abuse drugs, commit suicide or run away from home, according to the NNEDV.
A message Nocco wanted to send Tuesday is that “it’s OK” to talk about domestic violence.
“You’re not alone,” he said. “It’s not your fault.”
The situation victims are is the fault of the person who hit them, he said.
Margo Brandon is a domestic violence victim who was shot by her then-husband. She now volunteers with the sheriff’s office. She told her tale Tuesday.
Lynn Needs, head of the domestic violence program for the local Salvation Army, said the local Salvation Army shelter serves hundreds of women and children who are victims of domestic violence. That shelter focuses on West Pasco.
The area “lost three wonderfully vibrant women this year due to domestic violence,” she told the audience.
One was Elizabeth Behrens, a Tampa woman who was shot dead in a murder suicide in the parking lot of the Wesley Chapel Target store.
Another was Land O’ Lakes woman Rhonda Diller, who was shot to death by her husband.
The third is Wesley Chapel woman Linda Losacano, who went missing in May. It is uncertain whether she is dead. There is evidence of foul play in that case. The man she shared a home with was found dead in the home with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to reports.