Aquilla’s Promise Aimed At Combating Domestic Violence - My9 New Jersey

Aquilla’s Promise Aimed At Combating Domestic Violence

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East Orange, New Jersey (My9NJ) -

Aquilla Flood was a beautiful 17-year-old senior at Campus High School in East Orange, New Jersey. She planned to go to college to study fashion and had just been voted by her classmates to be the prom queen.

Sadly, Aquilla was found dead in her home with a gunshot wound to her head, allegedly from a fight between her and her ex-boyfriend just days before prom.

Never able to attend the prom and get crowned the queen, friends shared that she was buried in her prom dress. Now, a year later, the family still grieves this tragic loss.

On June 13, 2014, the grassroots organization East Orange Citizens United for Change organized a candlelight vigil in City Hall to give the community a chance to mourn all of those that we’ve lost to Intimate Partner Violence, including Aquilla Flood.

Her father and mother spoke about the difficulty of living through such a tragedy.

“It’s actually like a double edged sword, because I appreciate and love everybody for coming out and showing their support, but it’s also like pouring salt on the wound. And I don’t think a father should ever have to live through this type of pain,” Aquilla’s father Michael Hicks said.

Her mother even got a tattoo on her arm of Aquilla’s name with bees around it, because Aquilla’s grandmother lovingly used to call her Aquilla bee.

East Orange Citizens United for Change focuses on civic engagement, taking action and the mobilization of residents to solve social issues that affect the community.

“This movement to protect our women and daughters that have taken on a life of its own” says, Tomecca Keyes, President and Co-Founder of East Orange Citizens United for Change. “People are reaching out, they want to know more about the Aquilla Flood Healthy Alliance Joint Venture and what they can do to help."

As a result of the leadership of East Orange Citizens United for Change, City Hall will launch an Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Taskforce that will raise awareness city-wide while using prevention and education to reduce sexual assaults and domestic violence incidents. The East Orange Board of Education will adopt a Teen Dating Violence curriculum from grades 6 through 12.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health, 25% of women in the United States will become victims of domestic violence in their lifetime.

Asia Smith, Founder of Purple R.E.I.G.N. Social Services shared the unfortunate picture of domestic violence here in the Garden State, especially for African American women.

“As it relates to domestic violence here in New Jersey, we have over 70,000 reported incidents of domestic violence, and unfortunately, African American women have the highest domestic violence homicide rates than any other ethnicity in the state,” she explained.

Sadly, amongst young girls, domestic violence often goes unreported.

If you or a loved one suffer from domestic violence, or if you are looking for an opportunity to get involved, please contact Tomecca Keyes at eocitizens4change@gmail.com


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