Wreath of Hope Ceremony Raised Domestic Violence Awareness

Wreath of Hope Ceremony Raised Domestic Violence Awareness

An attendee of the Wreath of Hope ceremony pins a white flower to the wreath. The Wreath of Hope Ceremony was held in support of the fight to end domestic violence. (Photo by Elisabeth Slay, The Vista.)

On the south lawn of the Oklahoma State Capitol building, surrounded by flags of white and purple, hundreds of community members gathered at the Wreath of Hope ceremony to support the Young Women’s Christian Association in their fight to end domestic violence against women.

Amongst the crowd was Marina Pregel, who shared her experiences and story of survival in a domestic abuse relationship.

“‘Now look what you made me do.’ Are the words I would constantly hear after every event of domestic violence against me,” Pregel asked.

Pregel explained in her speech all the years she went through both emotional and physical abuse. She said when she finally found the courage to stand up against her attacker and call the police, it was a major turning point into a new life.

 


The YWCA asked Pregel to share her story in hope of providing inspiration. Pregel said she wishes her speech brought not only hope for survivors, but for those organizations that help victims of abuse.

“I would like to hope that it brings more of a reality to folks who maybe a little bit removed from it.  I know there are a lot of the partner agencies here, but I really think a success story or a survivor story — most of them, as far as I understand it— don’t normally hear the ending as far as what that person does to move forward. I hope it inspires them to maybe put more energy into what they’re already doing,” Pregel said.

She said she was asked in the summer to speak at the Wreath of Hope, and although she was nervous, Pregel said she knew she had to share her story.

“As fearful as I was— you know, anxious — something in my heart said ‘do it.’ I felt compelled to do it, to honor those victims that aren’t here, to speak on behalf of those that can’t,” Pregel said.

Pregel is extremely familiar with the YWCA and the services it provides women. She said without it, she would not be where and who she is today.

“They made this possible for me. They made the transition and my emotional work and getting over the fear and the shame and stepping into my comfort zone. They made it happen for me with all the programs they have to offer. I couldn’t have done it without them,” Pregel said.

In addition to Pregel, there were a few other speakers that included Oklahoma Office of Attorney General, Scott Pruitt, and Director of Human Services, Ed Lake, who provided their perspective on domestic violence and how their organizations provide help to victims.

“Because domestic violence is an unfortunate large factor in many of our child welfare cases of abuse and neglect, we have had to increase our knowledge and skills, and the way we’re doing that is partnering with the attorney general’s task force to be sure that the practices we use in our child welfare cases take into account those best practices in domestic violence,” Lake said.

Lake said although the Wreath of Hope was a great gathering to support abuse victims, more action needs to be taken to end the issue of domestic violence.

“Unfortunately, a one-year ceremony again shows how much more we need to do. Every year we gather and want to make a point that this is a huge issue in our society, but yet women and children are still being harmed and killed as a result of domestic violence. It is a great reminder, but it’s everyday changes that have to be made,” Lake said.

The YWCA Chief Executive Officer, Jan Peery, also said that there needs to be major changes in Oklahoma to truly stop domestic violence.

“We are working all the time with trying to get the message out. We’re doing training in businesses. To me that’s one of the biggest areas [we can provide help] if we can get in and get the training about,” Peery said.

Peery acted as the host of the event and said for its ninth year in existence, everything went extremely well, and it seemed that the audience responded well to all the speakers.

“I was pleased. It looked like the turnout was, I think, bigger this year than we’ve ever had. I estimate around 400 hundred [people]. Our survivor that spoke was very powerful, and again, we were thrilled to have Attorney General Pruitt and DHS Commissioner Ed Lake,” Peery said.

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