Candlelight vigil held in Paramus to pay tribute to victims of domestic violence
An emotional gathering was held in Bergen County Tuesday evening to pay tribute to those who fell victim to domestic violence.
The Center for Hope and Safety brings families together once a year for a candlelight vigil in Van Saun County Park in Paramus. A section of the park honors victims of domestic violence. Their names are engraved on bricks in the park.
One of those victims was Pete Miragliotta’s daughter. She was killed after being involved in a violent relationship. Miragliotta says that he never saw it coming.
“It almost never starts out as physical abuse. It almost always starts as something else,” Miragliotta says.
Miragliotta’s daughter was killed five years ago. Her husband suffered from depression and killed her and then himself with a shotgun. The three children now live with Miragliotta and his wife.
The vigil comes as the country learns more details about the Gabby Petito case. Coroners say that Petito was strangled to death. Her fiancé Brian Laundrie is the prime suspect, although he remains at large.
The Center for Hope and Safety had planned Tuesday night’s vigil before the new details of the Petito case emerged.
The center says that with a rise in crime and the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey could see more instances of domestic violence. The center saw calls increase nearly 50% during the pandemic.
The group has helped nearly 1,200 adults and children escape from violence.
“It’s been very problematic – the isolation, the tension that we have experienced through this pandemic really intensified domestic violence in many homes,” says Julye Myner, executive director of the Center for Hope and Safety.
Those at the vigil say that it is more important than ever for people to understand what to watch out for.
“From social work, to schools, to law enforcement, in particular, look at the recent case of Gabby Petito – law enforcement missed the signs,” says Sheila Bernstein, a domestic violence survivor.
Advocates say that New Jersey’s jobless crisis is also a contributing factor. They say that more needs to be done to help women get jobs so that they can leave potentially violent situations.