Look around Kansas City, and the colors signify October’s presence. Fountains spray pink to spread breast cancer awareness. Red and gold attire flaunt Kansas City Chiefs pride. Orange décor embraces fall.
But we’re leaving out a powerful color: purple – in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The color and its significance, just like the truth about domestic violence, too often fall by the wayside. In fact, it is often considered taboo to even discuss it, but unfortunately, domestic violence is alive and well in our community.
Consider the facts, as stated by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and reported by The Star:
• Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women.
• Three people are killed each day in the United States by a current or former intimate partner; in the Kansas City area alone, domestic violence claimed at least 14 lives in 2012.
• Local domestic violence shelters struggle to keep up with increasing demands for their services.
• One in every four women will experience domestic violence.
• Among domestic violence victims who told someone about the abuse, a majority said no one helped.
Shame, denial – the emotions often perpetuate the silence that conceals domestic violence. This must stop. As a community, we need to come together, face these dark realities and work for change so that victims of domestic violence may feel empowered to remove themselves from harmful relationships and environments. Fortunately, there are many local opportunities to make a difference, both big and small. Here are a few ways you can get involved:
• Donate clothing, household items and personal care items that can give domestic violence victims a fresh start to Hope House in Lee’s Summit and Independence by calling 816-257-9321.
• Play in Safe Home’s 13th annual Will Shields Flag Football Tournament or 7th annual Shields Family Children’s Soccer Tournament, which are Oct. 26 at Mid-America Sports Complex in Shawnee. Funds support survivors of domestic violence. For more information, call 913-432-9300 or visit www.safehome-ks.org.
• Make a donation to the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence. The coalition points out that giving $200 a year, which comes to $16 per month, covers the cost for an attorney to accompany a survivor to court to obtain a protection order. Give by calling 785-232-9784 or visiting www.kcsdv.org/donate.
• Attend the Rose Brooks Center Casino Night. The event raises money for the center, which provides a safe haven and counseling for survivors of domestic violence. The event takes place Oct. 26 at the Sheraton Overland Park. For more information, call 816-523-5550 or visit www.rosebrooks.org/casino/.
And while October creates a unique opportunity to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we all can help by actively deciding not to tolerate disrespect throughout the calendar year. It is time to acknowledge that domestic violence affects all socio-economic strata, education levels, genders, nationalities and religions. Education, especially for our youth, is crucial to create and promote healthy relationships based on equality. And most importantly, we should encourage and support those we know, who may be victims of domestic violence, so that they may free themselves from emotional and physical abuse. This community has many valuable resources to assist victims and their families.