|Take Back the Night (STOP INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE)|
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. A month that we solely raise awareness and shed light about domestic abuse. According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experience some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. These numbers are extremely alarming, so with that being said our fight against Domestic Violence continues. It is our goal to one day be able to say Domestic Violence is no longer an issue in the world.
Continued education about domestic violence is the only way we will be able to combat a crime that has been silent in our homes since the beginning of time. No longer will we stand behind our curtains or peep out of our blinds suffering in silence. There is a stance to be taken and that stance is saying Domestic Violence will No Longer Be Accepted. We have a voice and our voice is saying put an End to Domestic Violence.
Yesterday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana several local communities came together in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It was the 28th Annual Candlelight March and the theme was “Take Back the Night,” held at the LSU Memorial Tower on LSU Campus.
Summer Steib, the Executive Director of the LSU Women’s Center opened the event up by welcoming everyone that was in attendance for the event. A recognition was given to everyone on the committee that assisted with the event. In addition, a proclamation was read by the LSU Student Government Association that was signed by The President of the United States of America for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2014.
District Attorney Hillard Moore talked briefly on how his office handle Domestic Violence cases. He stated “it is his wish that one day we can do away with having Take Back the Night because Domestic Violence will no longer be an issue.” He also recognized his staff for doing a tremendous job in an effort to help prosecute cases and for being advocates for Domestic Violence.
In an effort to educate the community about the resources available, representatives from local organizations such as Iris Domestic Violence Center, Lighthouse, and STAR shared with the community the services that each offers. Iris Domestic Violence Center provides counseling, housing for women and children, assistance with protective orders, and court representation among other services not listed. Lighthouse Program services include support and medical services to sexual assault, domestic violence, relationship violence and stalking victims. Lastly, STAR (Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response) services include support, education and advocacy to individuals and families affected by sexual violence.
There were several survivors who shared their stories of abuse and the response they received from law enforcement. In some cases, the responses were not good from law enforcement. One survivor stated, “the treatment she received from law enforcement was worse than going through her initial ordeal.” In addition, the survivors shared with the community about the support they would like to have had from family, friends and bystanders.
Next, the candlelight vigil included an explanation of the candles and silhouettes. As each victim’s name was called a silhouette was raised to honor the victim. There were ten candles presented and for each candle a dedication was made, this represented the honoring of victims.
Lastly, a call to action was put in place for all of us to become active bystanders. As the new campaign launched by the White House reminds us, “It’s On Us” to Step Up, Step In and Do Our Part to create safer campuses and communities. And, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
To end our awareness event a march was led by the organizations through the community in honor of victims and survivors.
As you can see, it definitely takes a village to spread awareness and educate our community. The turnout for the event was a success. It was definitely a touching moment for everyone that came out to support the event.If you know anyone that is in a domestic violence situation, here are a few suggestions that you can do to help:
§ Help them find available resources
§ Help them plan a safety strategy
§ Let them know they are not alone
§ Don’t judge
§ Don’t minimize their feelings
§ Be a listening hear
§ Encourage them to seek help
If YOU are in a Domestic Violence situation know that YOU are not alone and here are a few suggestions for YOU:
§ Contact a local shelter (You can do so anonymously, until you feel more comfortable.)
§ Create a safety strategy
§ Know that it is not your fault
§ Don’t judge yourself
§ Find a support system
§ Don’t be hard on yourself
§ Love yourself
As I close, it is very important to understand Domestic Violence is REAL! Domestic Violence will not go away unless we as a community, a nation, and a world take a stand and use our voice to continue to raise awareness about a horrendous crime. We know Domestic Violence happens every day, every hour, every minute and every second. Please join our village as we continue to raise awareness, not just during the month of October but every day.
To learn more about the statistics for Domestic Violence, visit http://www.ncadv.org/resources/FactSheets.php and click on NCADV National Fact Sheet.
To learn more about the LSU Women’s Center, Iris Domestic Violence Center, Lighthouse Program and STAR, click on each individual link.
Until Next Time,