CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Six to seven years ago, Pam Wagner of Waynesboro was the victim of domestic violence.
“I wouldn’t have believed it could have happened to me,” Wagner said. “I didn’t know where to turn.”
When she picked up the phone and called Women in Need, the Waynesboro, Pa., woman said it was a decision that saved her life.
“They gave me hope. They gave me another chance at life,” she said.
Now, Wagner pays it forward – volunteering with Women in Need of Chambersburg by helping other women move from victim to survivor, just like she did.
Wagner’s story was one of four survivor tales told during the 20th annual Women in Need Vigil Against Violence held Thursday at St. Paul United Methodist Church.
More than 100 members of the community, representatives from law enforcement, the legal community and political representatives attended the vigil.
Franklin County Commissioners Chairman David Keller proclaimed April 22-28 National Crime Victims Rights Week and reaffirmed Franklin County’s commitment to respect and enforce victims rights during Crime Victims Rights Week and throughout the year.
Col. Cheri Provancha, commander of Letterkenny Army Depot, was the keynote speaker for the evening.
There were 19,000 sexual assaults (in the military) in 2011, which was down from 34,000 four years ago, she said
While the numbers are improving, Provancha said sexual harassment and assault have no place in the military.
“Don’t walk away or stick your head in the sand. We all need to act,” she said.
Provancha said, “we can celebrate those (survivors) who have taken their lives back,” adding that there’s still a ways to go on the issue.
Brenda, another survivor, told the crowd she was abused by a number of different men — beginning with her first husband.
At age 17, Brenda was physically abused.
“He beat on me and broke my ribs and busted my ear drum,” Brenda said.
After getting away from him, Brenda suffered abuse at the hands of three more men before finding safe haven at Women in Need.
“All I ever had was abuse,” she said. “Women in Need taught me how to stand on my own two feet and make my way in life.”
Barb Channing, executive director of Women in Need, said it’s important the victims tell their survival stories.
“When people are willing to speak out about what has been done to them, we all learn,” Channing said.
Every year, Women in Need serves more than 1,500 victims in Franklin and Fulton counties. Services are provided free of charge to victims of sexual violence, domestic violence and other serious crimes involving personal injury.
Channing said Women in Need has raised $1.2 million toward its $3.3 million goal to build a shelter and advocacy center to replace outdated facilities.
For more information about contributing to WIN’s Capital Campaign, call 717-264-4444.