Gaston County Sheriff’s Office honoring domestic violence awareness, survivor offers help to others

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 11:14 PM EDT
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GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - There is a new display to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the lobby of the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office.

The display features two large, white poster boards. Each board is littered with purple paint handprints and a stern message in black paint – ‘It Stops Here.’ Members of the sheriff’s office have been asking deputies and community members to leave their handprints as a show of support for Domestic Violence Awareness.

Leslie Blanton, a Gaston County resident and domestic violence survivor, left her handprint on one of the boards Thursday night. She spoke to WBTV about the domestic violence situations she survived.

“(It was ) very hard. I didn’t have a voice. I was very scared and I didn’t have anyone to talk to,” said Blanton.

The survivor said she dealt with domestic violence as a child and as an adult. She said she faced physical abuse in one of her previous marriages.

“I would leave my home and I would go other places just to hide and he would hunt me down like I was an animal,” said Blanton. “Every time that I would try to get away, he would threaten that he would hurt hisself or if I did take restraining papers out, he would threaten to kill me.”

Blanton said she had trouble speaking up about the domestic violence and didn’t have an advocate or support group to turn to. She said she supports the domestic violence awareness work that is being done at the local sheriff’s office. The office has its own domestic violence unit.

Haylee Mcleymore, a senior lead advocate with the office, explained how the domestic violence unit assists victims in Gaston County.

“(We’re) helping them through the really scary parts and the really confusing parts of court documents and filing warrants, things like that,” explained Mcleymore.

Capt. Monica Becton, the leader of the unit, explained the importance of showing support for domestic violence victims.

“We see how domestic violence affects our survivors in our county and we want to be there for them,” said Becton.

The captain encouraged anyone struggling in a domestic violence situation to reach out for help.

“Please come to us and let us help you through the process and give you the resources you need to get out of that situation,” said Becton.

Blanton said she is no longer dealing with domestic violence in her life, but she offered to help anyone else who may be suffering.

“Anybody that’s going through a similar situation, I’m there for them even though I’m not part of the group. I’m like ‘hey I’m here. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. You need me, you call me. I’ll help you any way I can’,” said the survivor.

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