October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Published: October 9, 2013
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ST. CROIX - Millions of women across the nation suffer at the hands of emotional or physical abusers on a daily basis, giving reason to pause during the month of October to observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Carolyn Forno, assistant director of the Women's Coalition of St. Croix, said her organization and other organizations like it across the nation continued to be a stronghold and safe haven for victims in their respective communities and hold the promise of a different life for victims and survivors of crimes.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect battered women's advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. Today, Domestic Violence Awareness Month is recognized in October in communities throughout the nation through multiple awareness raising activities.
Forno said the coalition provides advocacy, crisis intervention services and counseling for victims of crime, and last year they provided services to more than 2,900 women, men and children who were victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and other violent crimes.
In addition, the coalition provides emergency and transitional housing for victims and offers a high school diploma program to adults and youth who dropped out of school.
The Women's Coalition also conducts specialized training seminars to sensitize police, hospital and social service personnel to the needs of victims, and develops and advocates for legislation that protects the rights of and ensures justice for victims of crime.
As they pause to observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Forno said it is most important that residents realize that domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse or financial abuse.
"Anyone can be a victim, regardless of their age, economic status, race, religion or level of education," she said.
Forno said the statistics are alarming, and one in every four women and one in every 13 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. An average of three women somewhere in the nation will die as a result of domestic violence each day, she said.
More than 15 million children are exposed to domestic violence every year, and those children are usually the ones who are at higher risk for failure in school, suffer from emotional disorders, have substance abuse issues or be an abuser themselves as they get older, according to Forno.
"It's important for survivors to know that the abuse is not their fault, and they are not alone, and that is what we try to show," she said.
The coalition will conduct a wish list collection Oct. 19 and is asking residents to pick up extra items on their grocery shopping trip to Plaza Extra East or Kmart west from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to be donated to the shelter.
The biggest event for the month-long celebration is the "Take Back the Night" event, which is a silent march and rally calling for an end to domestic violence in the community, that will be on Oct. 24 in each district.
For more information, call 773-9272 or email email@example.com.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.