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Speaking out in Michigan against domestic violence

By Kellan Martin

Grand Rapids, MI – Alyssa Bates, known as Aly Thee Activist on social media, led a powerful event that lifted the voices of survivors of domestic abuse at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The event, titled Survivors Against Domestic Violence, was on Sunday, September 24.

Attendees listened to five speakers give moving testimonials. They shared the stage with five framed pictures of Grand Rapids community members, all women, who were victims of domestic violence.

Tables at the event had literature and resources from organizations such as Safe Haven Ministries, Planned Parenthood, and WEAVE of Kent County. There were flyers about domestic violence and how to spot abuse. A community art project was available for attendees to interact with, which promoted a positive environment and a message of solidarity for people facing domestic abuse.

Alicia Celeste spoke about her best friend Leah Gomez. Gomez was murdered by her boyfriend with an AR-15 in front of her one-year-old child on May 31. “She did everything she should do in her situation,” Alicia Celeste said.

Celeste explained how the Grand Rapids Police Department failed to prevent Gomez’s death even though she fully cooperated with law enforcement. Celeste emphasized, “Domestic violence can happen to you!”

In terms of dealing with domestic abusers, “It’s not easy, and the system is not set up for us women and mothers,” said Celeste in final remarks.

Common themes among other speakers touched on parental abuse and the physical and mental effects of domestic violence and abuse. Bates spoke last and related her own stories of being in abusive family and social relationships.

Cementing the theme of the event, Bates stated, “Abusers come in all walks of life,” and noted how it is imperative to act against abuse in organizing spaces. She plans to hold additional rallies in support of survivors in the upcoming months.

#GrandRapidsMI #DomesticViolence