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Domestic violence awareness event held after shootings

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Just days after a triple shooting left two women dead, volunteers distributed thousands of door hangers in a domestic violence awareness campaign in Orlando on Saturday.

The awareness event was held by Harbor House of Central Florida, in partnership with the City of Orlando and the Orlando Police Department.

Officials said the campaign is called It Takes Courage and it aims to make domestic violence victims aware of the resources available to them.

Harbor House wants victims to know that it takes courage to protest themselves from abusers. Hundreds of volunteers and Orlando police officers distributed the door hangers, which include information about domestic violence prevention and a 24-hour emergency hotline number.

"I think a lot of women do not know how dangerous their relationship is. They do not know the warning signs,” explained Carol Wick, CEO of Harbor House.

The awareness campaign comes just two days after police said 28-year-old Carlene Pierre and her co-worker were shot and killed at work by Pierre’s estranged boyfriend. Pierre’s friend was also shot during the Thursday morning incident but is expected to survive.

Pierre had filed a domestic violence injunction against her estranged boyfriend, 33-year-old Michelet Polynice, according to officials. Deputies said Polynice went on the shooting spree the day after he was served with the injunction.

Deputies said shortly after the shootings, Polynice shot himself and died in a fiery crash on Powers Drive.

Wick encourages victims of domestic violence to file for injunctions but said they also need to find a safe place to go.

"The injunction itself is just a tool, just like having locks on your windows or an extra lock on your door.  It’s part of a safety plan, but it's not in and of itself the only thing that you need," Wick said.

During the last awareness event in March, volunteers distributed more than 12,000 door hangers. After the event, officials said nearly 30 women and children fled their abusive homes to get help.

Volunteers hope to hand out roughly 15,000 door hangers on Saturday.