AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Richmond County Investigators say 20-year-old Brenleigh Kitchens was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend in April. Her mother, Loren Kitchens, spoke with NewsChannel 6 about domestic violence awareness and prevention.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetimes.
“She just was a ray of light,” Loren Kitchens said. “Anywhere she went she would light up a room. She would even leave and the room would go darker.”
Brenleigh is remembered fondly by friends and family… from her spirit, to her fiery red hair. Loren Kitchens says she carries a book of pictures of Brenleigh everywhere she goes.
“It is the best gift ever given to me, besides Brenleigh,” Kitchens said.
But she says it’s also important to remember her daughter as a domestic violence murder victim.
Kitchens is in the process of creating “Brenleigh Lives,” a nonprofit to educate others on domestic violence. She says the first step is recognizing the signs of abuse.
“If anything intimidates you or scares you, or it’s something that belittles you or makes you feel very uncomfortable, that’s the first sign,” Kitchens said. “And that’s a sign that you need to probably step away extremely quickly.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, domestic abuse generally begins in this form, before eventually escalating to physical violence.
“I think it’s going to start small, yes,” Kitchens said. “And then it’s going to escalate, and once you get to that escalation, you’re sometimes pretty far deep into the relationship.”
She also advocates for the importance of speaking out if you or someone you know is a victim.
“I thought as a mother I would see something or know something, but the problem is, it takes our kids talking and telling us things,” Kitchens said.
But she says it is possible to get out. She says it starts with telling someone, and then it takes a village.
“Someone has to know. So the friends need to step up whether or not they’re afraid of what she’s going to say, what he’s going to say,” Kitchens said. “Either way, if you don’t say something you could end up without a friend completely.”
Safe Homes Crisis Hotline: 706-736-2499
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233