Behind every number, a name and a face

Published 7:02 pm Tuesday, October 8, 2019

So far in 2019, 44 lives have been cut short in North Carolina due to domestic violence, according to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

But statistics don’t do justice for those victims. Behind every number, there is a face, a name and a story. The 44 who have died from domestic violence this year are diverse in all ways — age, race, gender and sexual orientation.

They range in age from 6 months old to 76. They are black, white and Hispanic and came from towns and cities throughout the state. Their stories are unique, yet each has the common thread of domestic violence.

In October, as Domestic Violence Awareness month is recognized throughout the country, Ruth’s House is doing its part to make sure that the names, faces and stories of these victims are remembered.

Each day this month, the nonprofit is sharing a post on social media about each victim, including their names, ages, locations, how they were killed and the identities of their abusers. This is supplemented by links to news stories about the victims.

It’s a way of honoring and remembering each victim, and it’s one of a number of ways the nonprofit is bringing the problem of domestic violence into the public eye this month.

Downtown, in the window of the Ruth’s House antique shop, a poignant display puts faces to the names. For each of the victims killed, a small paper T-shirt is hung on a miniature clothesline in their honor. It’s an extension of the national Clothesline Project, in which survivors and loved ones decorate shirts to reflect their thoughts and experiences with domestic violence.

The project’s name hearkens back to a time when the issue of domestic violence was not discussed publicly, instead being relegated to the clothesline, traditionally a place where women would gather to work.

The Clothesline Project originated in Massachusetts in 1990 when members of Cape Cod’s Women’s Defense Agenda learned that during the same time 58,000 soldiers were killed in the Vietnam War, 51,000 U.S. women were killed by the men who claimed to love them. It’s a reminder that the real meaning of domestic violence statistics are often ignored, according to the project’s website,

In addition to this display downtown, Ruth’s House will also hold a candlelight vigil later this month on the Beaufort County Courthouse grounds in memory of those killed. Each victim’s name will be read aloud during the vigil, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 24. Community members are encouraged to wear purple that day in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

While Ruth’s House is doing its part to raise awareness of domestic violence, and its deadly consequences, that may beg the question, “What can I do?” There are a few ways to take action, from volunteering with the nonprofit to donating financially to sharing supplies to help keep the Ruth’s House shelter up and running.

Perhaps you know someone who is in an abusive relationship. Maybe you are in one yourself. Know that the staff of Ruth’s House is there to help, and there are people who care.

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, call the Ruth’s House help line at 252-940-0007. To learn more about supporting Ruth’s House or about our education and outreach programs, call 252-946-0709 or visit