NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Prudence Crandell Center held its annual candlelight vigil on Wednesday night to raise awareness and honor those who have lost their lives in the past year to domestic violence. 

The center is also commemorating 50 years of serving the community. 

Survivors and family members of those who lost loved ones to domestic violence shared their stories. One person said leaving an abusive relationship was just the first step and that the journey is long, and support is needed.  

“It takes a community to raise a survivor, to sustain a survivor,” one person said.

Davida Foy Crabtree opened the Prudence Crandell Center half a century ago for that reason. She said speaking about domestic violence in the 1970s was taboo.  

“I had people try to silence me about it and polite people did not talk about these realities,” she said. “We name what’s actually happening, because in that is healing and in that is hope.” 

The theme of the vigil was “silent no more.” Sisters Tammy Walker and Taffie Walker-Dudley spoke about their sister, Shenia Walker, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend ten years ago.

They said talking about what happened and having a strong support system helped them get through the worst time of their life. 

“It changed our whole life, our dynamics, everything,” Walker-Dudley said. “My sister was a special person. If you have family and friends who are secure with you and solid with you, you’ll get through it. We got through it, we’re living testimony that you can make it on the other side of tragedy.”

Walker-Dudley said the Prudence Crandell Center offered support to their family since its first day.  

“It’s sad in the beginning, but you will find in joy if you trust in God and you trust in your village,” Walker-Dudley said.