Group gathers to support those impacted by domestic violence

WICHITA, Kan. Thursday night was emotional for a crowd gathered at the Law Enforcement Memorial near Wichita City Hall

They gathered to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to support people who've struggled with the issue previously or are currently working to overcome a situation in which they're abused.

Activists organized Thursday night's vigil following the murder of Kristin Florio-Gile. Florio-Gile's estranged husband shot and killed the mother of six this week before fatally shooting himself.

In addition to those gathered Thursday to honor Florio-Gile, many at the vigil have been affected by domestic violence, either personally or through someone they know.

They say they gathered Thursday night in part to encourage anyone who may be impacted by domestic violence to reach out and get help, as many of them once did.

The group included three women who went to high school together and remain friends, brought together by one commonality: They've all been affected by domestic violence.

"We've all relied on each other through our relationships," Sandra Holloway says.

Amanda Smith says her mother was in an abusive relationship and she says she hears many misconceptions about domestic violence.

"That it doesn't really happen that often, that wen someone cries out, they're doing it for attention," she says. "Some people say, 'something's not really going on, or 'she's just saying that.'"

The friends gathered at Thursday's vigil point out abuse can be physical, mental or emotional and they want to be there for others who are struggling.

"I was just scared that people were going to judge me, and I should have never been scared about that," Tiffany Bell says.

The group is also calling for stricter punishments regarding domestic violence, even for first-time offenders. Everyone gathered Thursday also joins in the desire to be there for anyone who needs help.