News

Vigil shines light on domestic violence

  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Support for Chavelle: about 250 people gather for the vigil at TN Tatem Middle School last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Light a Candle event to raise awareness about domestic abuse (Image supplied).

About 250 people turned out last night to light candles to focus attention on domestic violence.

The event was organised by Safe Space Bermuda, launched in honour of Chavelle Dillon-Burgess, a young mother who went missing in April.

Sarah Robinson, one of the organisation’s founders, said the group had been given a temporary fundraising licence and aimed to help people and families affected by domestic abuse.

She explained: “The name is Safe Space — it’s exactly what it says.

“We will come any time, night or day. We’re planning on having a hotline ... we want to get a safe house.”

Ms Robinson, a co-founder of the organisation with others, including Antonio Belvedere and Tene Dowling, said the group was “not trying to take over” from other social service agencies.

She added: “We just have the urge that we have to do this because it shouldn’t be happening here.”

Friends of Ms Dillon-Burgess, the mother of a toddler, have not heard from her since April 11.

She was reported missing on April 30, about two weeks before her 27th birthday.

A 39-year-old man was arrested last month and police confirmed the investigation into Ms Dillon-Burgess’s disappearance had developed into a murder inquiry.

The man was later released on bail.

Mr Belvedere and other members of the public joined police and Royal Bermuda Regiment troops in searches for Ms Dillon-Burgess, who lived in Warwick.

He told a crowd, including members of Ms Dillon-Burgess’s family, gathered in the field at TN Tatem Middle School: “It’s been long, it’s been hard, sleepless nights from us, the police and everybody else involved.”

Kevin Santucci, a pastor and chaplain to the police and prison services, as well as the RBR, said that in Bermuda “many people for many years” had suffered as a result of domestic violence.

He added: “Yet they’ve been silent and, this evening, we are saying, no more.”

Dr Santucci, who led prayers at the event, said: “We will stand up, we will speak up and we will come to the assistance of those who are being affected by domestic violence.”

Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley told the crowd that officers were working to solve the mystery of Ms Dillon-Burgess’s disappearance.

He added: “Our other role is to bring people to account for what’s happened to her and I put my hand on my heart that we will do that.”

Mr Corbishley said that domestic abuse was “everybody’s business”.

He explained: “I want to get to a culture where not just victims feel confident that they can come forward, but neighbours, friends, people in the supermarket — if they see something they’re confident to say something about it.

“This is about saving lives, it’s about changing lives.”

Other speakers at the event included Ianthia Simmons-Wade, a Progressive Labour Party senator, and Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security.