More than five years after her husband shot her, Margo Brandon spoke to a crowd of people from the steps of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office in New Port Richey.
They had gathered Thursday for a candlelight vigil for domestic violence victims planned in recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It was organized by the Sheriff’s Office and Salvation Army of Pasco County.
Brandon, of Hudson, was introduced as a survivor of domestic violence. But she only referenced briefly the day in 2006 that she was shot.
She didn’t talk about spending roughly a month in the hospital after the shooting.
She instead praised the services she received from the Sheriff’s Office and Salvation Army after the incident.
“Without these two great resources, I wouldn’t be here,” said Brandon, who now volunteers at the Sheriff’s Office’s Safety Town and elsewhere.
Brandon said in an interview after her speech that her, now, ex-husband verbally and physically abused or threatened her for most of their nearly 10-year marriage before he shot her.
"You get to the point where you just give up," she said.
Sheriff's Office deputies were at her house within three minutes of the shooting. The man is now in custody at Tomoka Work Camp in Daytona Beach.
To others caught in abusive relationships, Brandon had this advice: Get out and get help.
"I was stupid," she said of her decision to stay in her relationship.
Over this past year, four Pasco County residents have died due to domestic violence.
The Salvation Army handed out 92 candles ensconced in holders. Flickers of flame bloomed at after nightfall.
One speaker was the father of Lori Welch.
Welch was beaten to death with a bat in an apartment on Osteen Road in 2004. Her fiancee pled guilty to a first degree murder charge.
Another speaker was Joe Rossi, a Hudson father whose adult daughter was reported missing in 2009.
Sheriff Chris Nocco also spoke about what his agency is doing to respond to domestic violence.
“It’s going to take our whole community to fight the crime of domestic violence, said Lynn Needs, domestic violence program director at the Salvation Army. “We can do it. We just have to keep fighting."
See our gallery. Call the 24-hour hotline number at 727-856-5797 if you are a domestic violence victim in need of assistance.
National Domestic Violence Awareness Month goes on through the end of October.