WOODSTOCK – Lisa Van Wazer met her best friend, Jennifer Beaudion, when she was 11 years old.
“We were not only friends, but we were sisters. We did everything together. We were inseparable,” Van Wazer said.
Like any pair of friends, Van Wazer and Beaudion shared interests – whether it was watching the Cubs or talking about “Desperate Housewives.”
And they shared their dreams, disappoints and secrets.
In February, Van Wazer lost her friend to domestic violence.
Beaudion was 33 when she was shot to death in Huntley by her former fiancé in a murder-suicide.
Wednesday evening, Van Wazer addressed more than 100 people gathered at the Woodstock Square to remember victims of domestic violence during a candlelight vigil.
“Jennifer, I miss your smile, I miss your laughter, I miss your beautiful eyes. I miss you. We will always be best friends, and I know that one day we will meet again and our friendship will continue in heaven,” Van Wazer said.
The vigil was organized by the 22nd Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council.
“This is what we mean when we talk about a community outcry against violence,” said Bev Thomas, coordinator for the council. “Each of you has the power to make choices, to reach out to someone to help them make the right choices.”
Last year Turning Point served 1,324 adult victims of domestic violence in McHenry County and 235 children. Turning Point also assisted with 605 orders of protection and sheltered 49 women and 57 children who were fleeing violence in their homes.
“We want to honor and remember those who have been murdered at the hands of an intimate partner and to honor those who are trying to change their lives to live free of violence,” Turning Point Executive Director Jane Farmer said.
Among the speakers Wednesday was a young man who identified himself as Corey and recounted a past of abuse that began when he was a child.
“As a young boy, I watched the abuse between my parents, and it hurt me a lot,” he said. “After a while, it became just another part of my life.”
As he got older and became a young man, violence and aggression remained a part of his life. Eventually, he was sentenced to prison: “It got worse because I had not addressed the issues I was carrying deep inside.”
It was not until he participated in a 26-week program through Direct Counseling in Woodstock that things improved. After completing the mandatory program, he stayed. After 18 months, he become a peer facilitator, helping others who are in similar situations.
“He recognized that he had a choice,” said Renee Shopp, program director for the Direct Counseling’s partner abuse intervention program. “Just because he came from violence, that didn’t mean that he had to choose violence.”