Emma Walker’s family hopes sharing her story, showing her photo, and helping raise awareness for Domestic Violence could help others.
They’re joining the Knoxville and Tennessee Valley YWCA to do just that. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, the YWCA hopes by hosting events and vigils, even putting up purple ribbons around Knoxville, the community will become aware of how common it happens.
“1 in 3 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, so we know this is a topic on everyone’s mind,” said Maggie McNally, Director of Social Services at YWCA.
McNally says honoring Walker’s life and legacy is important.
Walker was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend, Riley Gaul, in November 2016. In May, Gaul was charged with First Degree Murder. He is currently serving a life sentence, with the option of parole in 51 years.
Walker experienced abuse that wasn’t always so easy to see, according to Walker’s mother, it lasted for two years during the course of their relationship.
“Our hope is that her story will help others in unhealthy relationships, this is what Emma would want. This is how you can continue to help others,” said Jill Walker, Emma’s mother.
Jill shared her daughter’s story with family, friends, and the community at a vigil held in Krutch Park on Thursday.
“Listen to your friends or family, if those closest to you do not approve of who you’re with, listen to them,” said Jill.
McNally says the month-long campaign is not only to raise awareness, but to remind victims of domestic abuse that they are believed and supported.
Other planned activities include a vigil at the YWCA on Oak Ridge Turnpike on Oct. 18, Party with a Purpose at the YWCA’s Phyllis Wheatley Center on South Cruze Street on Oct. 5.