As nonprofit leaders and Houston officials work on new strategies to eliminate domestic violence in the Greater Houston area, a multifaith group gathered at Hotel Ylem on Oct. 24 for a candlelight vigil honoring victims and survivors from 2023.

The vigil—a collaborative effort between the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council's interfaith committee, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse and Daya Houston—included representatives from the Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Sikh communities, among others.

Communities of faith are often among the first places people turn to for help when dealing with domestic violence, said Barbie Brashear, executive director of the HCDVCC, who has been involved in the movement for more than 30 years.

"We know that most people who experience violence will reach out to friends and family first, and faith communities next," Brashear said during the vigil. "So having a focus where we bring together multifaith communities to support them and educate them and let them know where services are available is very important."

Candlelights passed out during the vigil were meant to symbolize hope and an illuminating path toward unity and support. Attendees were asked to write the names of loved ones on them as well as messages of hope, prayers and wishes.

Speakers during the event also touched on the importance of empowering survivors and approaching them with empathy, patience and kindness.

The event also served to inspire hope in attendees and create a community of compassion in the ongoing fight to eliminate domestic violence and sexual assault.

"I’m deeply grateful that there are so many people in our community who do care and do want change," Brashear said. "You don’t know who is touched when you speak out against violence. ... When you speak up for change, you create that echo in someone else, and they create that echo in someone else. So don’t stop. Continue to use your voice. Continue to speak up. Continue to surround the families that need you with love and support."