Rally in downtown Abilene raises awareness about violence


ABILENE, Texas - There was live music, food trucks and street performers at a rally in downtown Abilene Saturday.

Along with the family friendly fun there was a serious message about raising awareness and preventing violence in Abilene and the surrounding area.

Geana McLendon survived being set on fire.

My ex-boyfriend broke into my house and poured a gallon of gasoline on me, and I wasn't supposed to make it," McLendon said. So, giving my testimony I'm really here to show and tell people about faith and my relationship with God and how I pulled through that."

Her current boyfriend was there by her side as she told her story.

"Her right there is just my main motivation," said Raheem Townsend. "We come out here every year to support her and what she does."

The group Stop the Violence organized the rally. Its goal is to give victims and witnesses of violence the courage to speak up.

Just last month Soa Trucks was shot and killed at her north Abilene home. Her boyfriend was arrested and charged with her murder.

"We love this city," said Chad Mitchell, the founder of Stop the Violence. "We want to make it better so we just want to create awareness. We want to give victims of violence a platform to speak and also have a family fun festival to try to draw support out for the city."

McLendon hopes her story of survival will encourage other victims to get out of abusive relationships so they too can become survivors.

"We just really want to bring awareness to women that might be stuck in a situation that think there's not any help," McLendon said. "There is help and all these people are out here showing different resources and giving their own testimonies."

The rally is an annual event.

Stop the Violence is also planning other events throughout the year to bring attention to violence in the area.

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