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Vigil shines light on domestic violence

ALBANY, Ga. -- Plans call for candles to shed light at 7 p.m. Thursday at Veterans Park Amphitheatre to raise awareness of domestic violence victims, including the dead.

"There will be 68 names read of those who were killed from Sept. 9 until today," said Silke Deeley, the executive director of domestic violence shelter Liberty House on Tuesday. "Of course, by Thursday night there could be more."

Standing up for the 68 who died from domestic violence in Georgia will be volunteers and Liberty House staff members. As a name of the deceased is called, someone wearing the victim's name will rise to be recognized by the audience.

"We don't know whose name we will be wearing yet," said Clara Knight Lewis. "I've read all the newspaper accounts of how they died.

We'll know about who we represent. I believe it is for us to stand up and give them a voice."

Also calling attention to what she called an "epidemic of domestic violence" will be survivor Valerie Williams of Brunswick. She will tell her story, which almost placed her among the dead.

Williams said her husband never hit her or screamed at her. She never would have guessed he would become violent.

"It all changed within 20 minutes," Williams said. "My husband called me home and shot me with a .38 Smith & Wesson."

Williams suffered wounds from six shots, one of which went through her head. The justice system was prepared to punish her husband with less than three years in jail, but Williams fought back. Her ex-husband eventually spent 10 years in prison.

"Not enough people believe it can happen to them," Williams said. "People have to know how quickly it can happen."