Ending the silence of domestic violence

Posted at 3:16 PM, Oct 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-02 15:16:00-04

The Purple Light Walk, put on by the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati and Women Helping Women, starts at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 2, in Washington Park.  WCPO has put together a list of resources for Tri-State survivors below.

“Just leave.”

If trite advice made leaving a violent situation simple for anyone, then 1 in 4 women wouldn’t experience domestic violence in their lifetime and 1 in 3 women wouldn’t be survivors of domestic violence each year.

But it’s never that easy.

Theresa Singleton would know; she’s been advocating for survivors of domestic violence in Cincinnati for nearly 26 years, and serves as the director of protection from abuse for the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and a number of Tri-State organizations are proudly wearing their purple, the color that represents domestic violence awareness, and hosting events to raise awareness. Here's some local resources:

The Purple Light Walk honors survivors of Domestic Violence in the Tri-State.

The YWCA of Greater Cincinnati, 898 Walnut St., Cincinnati  (513) 241-7090

“We would never, as advocates, tell a survivor to just leave, because that doesn’t end the problem, unfortunately,” Singleton explains from the playroom at the YWCA’s domestic violence shelter in Hamilton County.

Coloring book pages, decorated in bright and sometimes careful crayon, line the walls of the room in the shelter that can house up to 72 survivors and their children. 

“In fact, all of the research shows the most dangerous time for a survivor occurs when (they) are in the process of leaving, or after (they’ve) already left the relationship,” Singleton said. “That’s why protective shelters are important. If the abuser can’t access her, they can’t kill her.”

The facts about intimate partner violence can be hard to face.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, every nine seconds a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten. Twenty-five percent of American men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

In the United States, 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence, with 90 percent of them witnessing it, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence stats say.

Cincinnati opened the seventh domestic violence shelter in the country in 1978, known as the Alice Paul House. At its inception, it didn’t have the level of children’s services it has now.

In recent years, the conversation around domestic violence and sexual assault has become more visible, but the visibility isn’t enough to stop the problem, Singleton explained.

“We’ve done a lot to raise awareness and take away the shame, because as many survivors know, survivors are embarrassed and ashamed this has happened to them,” she said. “I had a woman say to me the other day, ‘I can’t believe this is my life.’”

For a look at the services the YWCA Of Greater Cincinnati offers for survivors of Domestic Violence, go here.

Information from services from the YWCA of Hamilton can be found here.

Safe Passage, multiple locations, Batesville, Indiana: 812-933-1990

It was 1997, and three women were sitting around a kitchen table in southeastern Indiana, searching for solutions for a friend caught in a violent relationship.

At that time it seemed like there were no resources for people experiencing domestic violence, so these women took it upon themselves to find answers.

Safe Passage Inc., a nonprofit based in Batesville, Indiana, was conceived at that dinner table nearly 20 years ago, and has expanded from a crisis hotline to become a service that helps nearly 1,000 survivors each year.

Since its inception, founder Jane Yorn said its grown to a full-scale operation that offers a high-security shelter for both men and women, four satellite campuses and a slew of social workers, professional staff and victim advocates.

Serving Dearborn, Franklin, Ripley, Ohio, Switzerland and Jefferson counties in Indiana, Safe Passage fills a need for survivors in Indiana. But those aren’t the only people they help.

“A lot of times when people are trying to escape abuse they are looking to get a little further away, it’s very common for us to get calls from the Ohio region,” Yorn said.

It’s also common for Safe Passage to get calls asking for help with basic things, like food and clothing, as well as shelter.

Safe Passage Inc. is starting a social media campaign to spread awareness about domestic violence in the Tri-State.

The Centers for Disease Control awarded the program with grants to look at violence prevention, particularly in rural areas.

They’ve used that money on innovative programming for school-aged youth, educating them about healthy relationships.

“It’s really designed to shift culture, not just say, ‘This is what a healthy relationship looks like.’ It’s not the do’s and don’ts of bullying,” she explained. “But more about helping individuals look at their own strengths and to build protective factors in children, and reduce risk factors in children.”

One of the ways Safe Passage will do this is through a traveling display around its service area. The display, known as “What Happens Behind Closed Doors,” is an educational program aimed at teaching about domestic violence.

Safe Passage is also encouraging people to post messages to social media, like the one below, engaging others to help end domestic violence.

Here’s a look at the where the program will be this month:

  • • Oct. 12-19: Ivy Tech in Lawrenceburg
  • • Oct. 19-20: Lawrenceburg Public Library
  • • Oct. 12-19: Ivy Tech in Batesville
  • • Oct. 12-30: Batesville Public Library
  • • Oct. 22: Safe Passage Youth Council, from 3 to 4 p.m.
  • • Oct. 19-30: Rising Sun Library
  • • Oct. 5-19: YWCA in Vevay, Ind.

The ‘Behind Closed Doors’ campaign from Safe Passage Inc. teaches school students about the importance of healthy relationships.

Eve Center, multiple locations, Greater Cincinnati, 513-985-9959

For over a decade, faith-based Eve Centerhas helped women in Greater Cincinnati navigate dysfunctional and unhealthy relationships.

“It’s amazing in this day and age, how many women just don’t know how to define a healthy relationship, or feel they have to stay in a relationship that is just incredibly unhealthy for them,” the Eve Center’s Kenda Moss explained.

One of the tools women can use to identify dysfunctional and even dangerous relationships is one-on-one peer counseling.

Another is through the ROSE, or Relationships Overcoming Struggles Through Encouragement, program.

“This is for women who are out  (of a bad relationship) and don’t want to get back in, or those whose domestic violence situation isn’t so extreme they need to get out immediately,” Moss said.

ROSE is a 12-week “recovery group,” she explained, that is closed and confidential, where women learn from each other.

“They learn how to define a healthy relationship, they learn how to identify unhealthy relationships,” she said. “And they learn to have enough self-care and self-respect to feel like they can come out and leave a relationship that’s dysfunctional or even violent.”

So what does a healthy relationship look like? Moss says when it comes to identifying them, key factors, “love are respect are big ones,” and so are validation, healthy communication and unconditional love.

Although Eve Center follows Christian principles,  volunteers do not push anything religious on clients, Moss said.

“If they want the ‘faith’ part of it to be a big part of this, we’ll go there,” she explained. “(But if they say) ‘Listen, that’s not who I am, I’m not interested in that,’ we will not push the faith, so to speak.”

Women Helping Women,  215 E. 9th Street, Cincinnati, 513-977-5541

The Purple Light Walk asks participants to shine their light for the fight against domestic violence.

Women Helping Women serves survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in Hamilton and Butler counties. They provide advocates for survivors in both the courtroom and hospital room.

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the group is part of several events.

  • Purple Light Walk, Oct. 2, 5:30 p.m., Washington Park: The Purple Light Walk will be held on Friday, Oct. 2. Purple is the color that represents Domestic Violence Awareness. At 7 p.m, a 1.5 mile walk will commence where participants will hold purple glow sticks to, according to Women Helping Women’s website, “shine our light for the fight against domestic violence.”
  • 28th Annual “She Screams Without Sound” candlelight vigil, Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m., Hamilton County Courthouse: This candlelit vigil commemorates Greater Cincinnati’s victims of domestic violence homicides, people killed by a family member or intimate partner. Anyone who wants to memorialize a family member or friend can contact Women Helping Women.
  • Bark Out Against Battering Pet Fest, Oct. 17, Washington Park, 11:30 a.m.: In conjunction with the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati, Bark Out Against Battering raises awareness of domestic violence’s impact on everyone, including pets.

Women’s Crisis Center of Northern Kentucky: Multiple locations: (859) 491-3335

The Women’s Crisis Center of Northern Kentucky offers services to survivors at locations in Carrollton, Covington, Hebron, Maysville, Vanceburg and Dry Ridge.

The center was established in 1976 as the Rape Crisis Center of Northern Kentucky. The first residential shelter opened in Northern Kentucky in 1981 and a new shelter was opened in 2000 to accommodate 30 people.

A new shelter was opened in 2005 in Maysville that accommodates 26 people. Pet shelter is also provided.

During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, staff is encouraged to engage in “heartfelt conversations in bolstering community awareness,” said Kira Petrykowski, the center’s volunteer coordinator.

To do this, they will facilitate a social media campaign within the agency. Staff members will also be asked to wear purple on Thursdays.

Other events include:

  • Hope Glows: On Oct. 29 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the agency’s Covington office, there will be a candlelit vigil featuring a courtyard luminary, and candlelit memorial ceremony for victims lost to domestic violence over the past year.
  • 15th Annual Community Shower at the Maysville Younger Women’s Club: The shower will be held at the Calvert Lodge of the Maysville Community and Technical college, featuring vendors. Admission to the event is free with the donation of an item to the Maysville Women’s Crisis Center Shelter.
  • The NKY Women in Blue Calendar: Available on Etsy, this calendar will be on sale during the month of October. Proceeds of this calendar will benefit the Women’s Crisis Center.