Reflection on Domestic Violence Awareness Month

November 4, 2019

   The month of October has come and gone, and for us at the Rape Crisis Domestic Violence Safe Haven of Ashland (a program of Appleseed Community Mental Health Center), much of it has revolved around promoting domestic violence awareness.

   This month’s activities, all designed to bring awareness to the Ashland community about the survivors of domestic violence, has left a significant impact on the survivors who participated and the entire staff of the Safe Haven. During October, the Safe Haven conducted several events and activities designed to raise community awareness of the plight of victims as well as highlight of the services of the Safe Haven.
These services include emergency shelter, 24/7 in-person crisis services, 24/7 crisis hotline, community support groups, community education as well as in-court and in-hospital advocacy. Events during the month included a candlelight vigil, held on October 3rd in Ashland’s corner park. This event brought the community together to memorialize and honor those Ashland County residents killed by acts of domestic violence. At this event, speakers from all over the community came to talk about the stories, struggles, and heartbreak of their lost loved ones.
On October 24th, the Safe Haven hosted the Survivor-Speak-Out event. During this gathering, a small number of survivors came to share their accounts of abuse, coupled with their story resilience and recovery. Their focus was on empowering those who are currently living in a DV relationship to find ways to move toward wellbeing and safety. This night was filled with compelling stories of heartache, fear, and hope. The various speakers’ goals were that their stories would inspire anyone who is struggling with domestic violence that there is hope, that there are resources that they can use to leave their current situation. It was also designed to communicate that they are not alone in their struggles.
   A third way the Safe Haven has pursued raising awareness during October is The Silent Witness Project. This project was ongoing throughout the month. It was a mobile set of silhouettes of each of the Ashland County individuals who have lost their lives to DV over the last 30 years. The stories of these individuals, as well as their photos, are attached to the red silhouettes and were moved to a different location throughout the county each week. The powerful message sent by the silhouettes is the reality and often fatality of DV in our community. Bringing these stories to the forefront of the communities in Ashland County is essential not only so that these women’s lives are not lost in vain, but so that we as a community can change our perception of DV in a way that leads to affirmative action and reduces the chance of losing more of our community members to such acts.
 As we move from October into November, it’s the hope the staff at Appleseed Community Mental Health Center and the Safe Haven that everyone remembers those we’ve lost to domestic violence and that we as a community step out to prevent further harm and suffering of victims.
   Thank you to everyone who has helped support both survivors and the Safe Haven in making this past October a wonderful month in bringing awareness to domestic violence.

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