A roll call of women lost at the hands of someone who once proclaimed love led to tears welling in listeners' eyes. Friends, family and survivors gathered in Wodonga on Tuesday, December 5, in a special, emotional tribute to the victims of domestic violence. Roses were laid in honour of eight women who have lost their lives in Victoria at a Gateway Health vigil held in Woodland Grove, as part of the 16 Days of Activism initiative that began on November 25. Gateway Health clinical lead for domestic and family violence Joanne Newell said it was an emotional tribute, but one where people could be centred in the "sadness and tragedy of loss of life and the impact of family violence". "We are all coming together from a space of empathy, of recognising that family violence is not OK, that it's simply not OK," she said. "If we can join in with that space, then we can find the solution." Ms Newell said it was imperative to hear the voices of people who had experienced family violence and to listen to their stories. "By listening it's where we are able to connect," she said. "If we can't connect, then we distance ourselves from it and it becomes somebody else's problem. "But it's all of our problems. It affects every single woman. It affects every single man as well. We all know a woman." Ms Newell said the community needed to continue to be open about men's behaviour, and to open that door wider. "The concept of demonising or shaming people who are using violence doesn't work," she said. "This is our problem; we have to work with both dignity and with honouring the experiences of everything." Ms Newell said holding the vigil was not about the annual tradition of ticking a box. "It is about raising awareness, but it's also about stopping and honouring and centering ourselves and the lives that have been lost," she said.