As Gabby Petito case grips the nation, First Step wants domestic violence victims to know where to turn

Local News

19th annual candlelight vigil approaching

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The family of Gabby Petito held a press conference Tuesday in New York, with law enforcement continuing the search for her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, as the developments grip the country, and now many are pointing to domestic violence resources in their community.

Details in the Gabby Petito case strikes a chord with many as the story has swept the nation.

“We live in that every day right? This is our job it’s what we do,” First Step Inc. Executive Director Michelle Turnbow said.

Some, like those at First Step, the non-profit organization providing comprehensive services to victims and survivors of domestic violence, more than others.

“So this is our life, we see that in our community that most people don’t, or are not aware of this happening,” Turnbow said.

Lasting images of Petito and Laudnrie on police bodycam footage shows the couple after heated exchanges. Turnbow said as the story’s unfolded, something really stuck out to her.

“I think that what was a big trigger for me in what I’ve seen in the whole incident with Gabby, was there was no resources given to her, there are over 800 hotline national domestic violence, local agencies, we have a hotline number, and there’s someone there 24/7, live person you can just talk to. It’s confidential and you can just ask them questions and maybe be able to navigate that better for you,” Turnbow said.

So during such a high-profile case, Turnbow wants survivors and those trapped in abusive relationships to know that they have plenty of resources.

Whether that’s the hotline, or one of their events, like the upcoming 19th annual Candlelight Vigil at the Wichita County Courthouse.

“Being able to educate, just anyone, if you can just reach one person that may not know that first step exists, or even just the signs of domestic violence and how they can get resources and help in their community is super important, and I don’t think there’s any event that we do, that, that does not happen,” Turnbow said.

This event honors victims of domestic violence, celebrates survivors. and educates the community on what they do to help more people, Turnbow hopes anyone affected, or wanting to help, will show up.

“Not just standing for gabby, but for those 185 in our state last year, for those in your community that are suffering or have suffered from domestic violence, I hope that you find it in your time to come out and honor them in this event,” Turnbow said.

Honoring those near and far and hoping to provide a voice for those who need it.

That candlelight vigil is coming up on Friday, October 1st and it starts at 6:30 pm with speakers, WFPD Chief Manuel Borrego, Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana, and Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom, then testimonies will follow.

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