Chicago nonprofit hosts Light Up the Lakefront in honor of Domestic Violence Prevention Month

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Monday, October 2, 2023
Candles lit at Chicago beach for Domestic Violence Prevention Month
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Between Friends hosted the Light Up the Lakefront event at North Avenue Beach in honor of Domestic Violence Prevention Month.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A stunning display of candles adorned the city's lakefront on Sunday night.

"A striking visual for everybody to see the damage that's been happening to our community for years on end," said Between Friends Executive Director Verda Bhatti.

Each flame represents a story of survival, loss and honoring endurance, while lighting the way for those affected by domestic violence.

"It's not just a very heartbreaking reminder. It's also a pledge and a symbol of hope," Bhatti said.

Chicago-based nonprofit Between Friends hosted its 28th Annual Light Up the Lakefront event in honor of Domestic Violence Prevention Month.

"We light candles for three reasons: one, to remember all those we've lost to domestic violence, in honor of those still struggling, and the third and most important reason is our commitment," Bhatti said.

Among the dozens gathered Sunday night at North Avenue Beach were survivors, advocates and volunteers.

"It's sad to me, because shouldn't nobody ever go through this in life and you going through this, and a lot of people don't got the loved ones and the people they love to go to," said youth volunteer Cortland Thomas.

Between Friends offers free services to those impacted by domestic violence, as well as prevention and education programs.

"The support needs to be year-round. And, this is why our efforts have to be year-round. Domestic violence is not slowing down, and we can't afford to slow down either," Bhatti said.

Advocates say as much as the candles expose the dark reality of domestic violence, they also shine a light on community, ready to embrace those in need.

"Your humanity is restored a little bit when you're able to recognize that something that's so shameful for so many doesn't have to be in the dark," said attendee Allegra Twichell. "It can be a place of community and love."