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      Vigil Honored Domestic Abuse Victims

      Domestic abuse is a problem that's increasing every year in the Rio Grande Valley. The Family Crisis Center hosted a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of domestic abuse, as well as, to honor officers who lost their lives in the line of duty while answering domestic violence calls.

      Brenda Heredia, the Executive Director of the Harlingen Family Crisis Center, said domestic abuse is an issue that affects the entire community. "When people hear the phrase domestic violence, they think that it TMs a family matter. The vigil tells us that it is a public matter. People's lives are being lost and it's not just a family matter to be kept quiet and not discussed."

      During the vigil, five Valley police officers, who lost their lives while responding to domestic disputes in 2007, were also honored. Guest speaker, Officer Carlos Ramos, became a victim of domestic violence while responding to a domestic dispute in 2004. Officer Ramos suffered second and third degree burns when a man threw a fiery object at him that caught him on fire. As traumatic as the situation was, it also has been a learning experience; not just for me, but for other officers. In the law enforcement community, we try to address these issues because they are very pressing issues.

      Officer Ramos told Action 4 News that 60 percent of calls are related to domestic violence. They are the most volatile types of situations because we are dealing with humans and their emotions. We try to address these issues by having get-togethers as we're doing this evening.

      Heredia said the issue of domestic abuse doesn't discriminate. So, it doesn't matter how old you are, what profession you have, how much education you have, anybody can be a victim of domestic violence.

      The Family Crisis Center encourages victims to speak out by calling their hotline that's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 956-423-9304.