Standing at a lectern in Bank of America Park with more than 50 silhouettes of domestic violence victims around her, Jennifer Purser believes there’s a purpose to her being alive.
Purser, a survivor of domestic violence from Port Angeles and mother of two young boys, was the keynote speaker at the Silent Witness Vigil on Oct. 18 in Sequim and Oct. 17 in Port Angeles, hosted by Healthy Families of Clallam County.
A crowd of community members, Healthy Families volunteers and staff, and law enforcement gathered on the windy day in Sequim to learn about her story in two abusive relationships.
“I hope that by telling people what I’ve been through might stop someone else from going through it, too,” she said.
Purser said she was abused and threatened in both relationships and that her current husband made threats to her sons.
Last year, she sustained cracked ribs, internal bleeding and a ruptured spleen after saying she was going to leave him.
Purser said when she sees the scar on her abdomen she doesn’t feel it’s ugly but a sense of strength.
“I’m meant to help other women know they are worth surviving; they are worth more than being abused,” she said.
Her husband was found guilty on two counts of assault in the second degree, two counts of intimidating a witness, and one count of harassment, threats to kill.
Purser said the best part of her healing was standing up to him in court because he had taken her self-worth and confidence and she felt she got some of that back.
“I’m now a stronger, healthier, happier person now,” Purser said.
She expressed gratitude to Healthy Families and said after the event she at first didn’t know it existed but it has been a great resource for her.
During the vigil, Becca Korby, executive director of Healthy Families, read the names of 100 domestic violence deaths from Jan. 1, 2011-June 30, 2012, in Washington.
Of those cases, 43 were women, 17 men, 14 children, 26 abusers from suicides and six pets.
She said a red flag for abuse is when people begin abusing their pets. Korby added that domestic violence also remains a human issue, not focused only on women but because more and more men are impacted, too.
In the past year, 224 of Healthy Families’ clients lived in Sequim, including some as young as elementary school age.
The ceremony was not all grim: Gratitude awards were given to volunteers Judy Palumbo-Gates and Beverly and Marty Hoffman for their dedicated service.
For more on Healthy Families of Clallam County, visit www.healthyfam.org or call 452-3811.
If you have been or know someone affected by domestic violence/sexual assault, call the 24-hour crisis line at 457-4357.