Domestic Violence Awareness Month
by Christina Hays
As October closes, we thank everyone who participated in celebrating Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). Each October we recognize DVAM to help educate the public about domestic violence and to send a message of healing and hope into our community. We absolutely could not do this without community support. The National Network to End Domestic Violence picked the theme of “Everyone Knows Someone” this year, and we could not agree more. With 1 in 4 women reporting domestic violence, it goes to reason that if we have not experienced domestic violence ourselves,we definitely know someone who has. If you are convinced you do not know someone, I urge you to consider just how common it is to not share about it. Domestic violence spent years behind closed doors and only being mentioned in hushed voices. We are doing everything we can to encourage survivors to stop hiding their stories and start sharing them.
Survivors’ stories have the power to inspire others to be brave enough to ask for help in getting out of their situation. It takes time, strength, and a whole lot of courage to leave an abusive relationship. Supporting victims fleeing violence is one of the most important things a community can do. You may be asking what support looks like. I am glad you asked. Donating gift cards, gas cards, or money is always a big help. If you cannot contribute financially volunteering your time to meet with Crisis Services of North Alabama staff and Jackson County Coalition Against Domestic Violence (JCCADV) members on becoming educated about domestic violence and ways to help local survivors. Volunteering to distribute posters, brochures, and other educational materials through the county is another way to help. Attending events throughout the month of DVAM and hearing first hand stories is another way to show support for survivors. We are so grateful to Mary Jackson for sharing her story of survival and hope with us last week at the DVAM event at Jackson County Courthouse gazebo. If you were in attendance, I know you were inspired by her.
Just because another DVAM has come to a close does not mean that you cannot continue to help support survivors in your community. JCCADV is looking to recruit new members and welcome former members back to help start planning other awareness events as we now prepare to take on Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April 2024. Crisis Services of North Alabama provides services all year and is always looking for volunteers who are interested in canvasing the county to hand out materials in our community as well as move our “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” banner around to different cities and towns. If you are interested in getting involved in any way, please reach out to us.
As a personal message to all survivors, we want to say that we believe you, we remember you, and we support you. We are so grateful to be able to provide services to anyone who has experienced intimate partner violence, and we look forward to continuing these services for years to come. To our past clients, we wish you all the best and continue to cheer you on in all of your future endeavors. To our future clients, we are waiting for you and will see you when you are ready. We know it takes a lot to open that door and share some of your worst moments with another person, but we promise you will be met with a friendly smile and no judgement. We see you, and we are just so glad that you had the courage to come say hello.
If you or anyone you know has experienced intimate partner violence, please reach out to us on our 24/7 HELPline at 256-716-1000, on our website at csna.org, or locally at 256-574-5826. Trauma-informed, crisis counselors are available and waiting to talk with you. Please know that all our services are confidential and free. Remember that love shouldn’t hurt and if it does, we can help!