Of the colors that dressed Green Street on Oct. 7, one stood out the most: purple. On pamphlets and t-shirts, purple didn’t just stand out in numbers but also in its significance. Oct. 7 was Paint the Town Purple day, organized by Courage Connection, a not-for-profit agency for survivors of domestic violence. Purple is the color of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), which is held every October.
“Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity to show solidarity and, as a nation, be more vocal about domestic violence,” said Isak Griffiths, the executive director of Courage Connection.
Initiated in 1981 with the intention to connect advocates throughout the nation, DVAM has been commemorated every year since. The importance of this movement is underpinned by the fact that lack of awareness can be detrimental to the person(s) involved in domestic violence and possibly even fatal.
“Lack of community awareness about domestic violence and who’s really to blame for it can put peoples’ life in danger,” Griffiths said. “We want you to know that you have a safe place to go”
Awareness is more than just being thrown statistical jargon, such as the fact that every nine seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten or that one year from now, more than 10 million women and men will be physically abused by an intimate partner. Awareness is actual comprehension of the dynamics of domestic violence that includes, but is not limited to, sexual, physical, emotional and financial abuse.
Courage Connection develops programs and partnerships that help survivors of domestic violence heal from hurt. Not only does it have a 24-hour hotline and homeless shelters, but it also provides services like counseling and court advocacy. Additionally, it provides safety planning, which is a practical approach to creating a personalized plan for the survivors and people related to them so that they can avoid dangerous situations and know the best way to respond in those situations. Most importantly, however, Courage Connection guarantees privacy in all matters within its jurisdiction, an important aspect not ensured once one seeks aid from the police. This year, Courage Connection will be campaigning with the phrase ‘Silence Kills’ to promote more dialogue about domestic violence, a crucial precursor to alleviation of domestic violence.
To achieve its agenda, the agency is involved in numerous of events. It held the ‘DVAM Kick Off’ event on Oct. 1 at Parkland College, Lincoln Square Mall and Big Grove Tavern to share information on awareness about domestic violence and how to support those who are experiencing or have survived it. The Second Wind Running Club organized ‘Women’s Fitness 5K Run/Walk’ on Oct. 4 and donated all proceeds to Courage Connection and Crisis Nursery. On Oct. 7 Courage Connection held the citywide event mentioned earlier, Paint the Town Purple.
“It is insisted that anyone who acknowledges that domestic violence is a concern in our society, wear the color purple on that day,” Griffiths said.
Indeed, many people did. To show how important it is to have an open and free dialogue about domestic violence in the society, many shed their casual wear and chose purple to embrace the cause.
“There [was] an event, Peace Jam, on the same day at Independent Media Center at 6 p.m. It [had] music and art for people to say ‘you’re not alone’ in a family-friendly way,” Griffiths said.
According to Griffiths, there is a lack of available homeless services to provide for families in need. To make up for the shortages, Courage Connection relies on private funding.
“Right now our waiting list for homeless services has over a hundred families and it’s growing. And part of that is because of cuts in state funding,” Griffiths said.
For Domestic Awareness Month, the agency will be holding two fundraising events. The Ultimate Challenge Boot Camp, an hour long boot camp style fitness class designed to accommodate varying personal goals and skill levels, is a fundraising event organized by mLAB fitness. All participants will receive a gift certificate for a free personal training session or free group fitness class. The event has a participation cost of $15, and the entirety of the collection will be donated to Courage Connection. Online registration is open.
The other fundraiser is Manolos + Margaritas, a silent auction, limited to a hundred tickets. Over cocktails and fancy appetizers, people will partake in a silent auction with the highest valued items being a pair of Manolo Blahniks, otherwise known as ‘Sex and the City shoes’, a signature margarita and a specialty menu by V. Piccaso’s Chef Adam Shallenberger. More details can be found on Courage Connection’s website.
Courage Connection has special events on campus as well, aimed toward University students.
“We are working with Women’s Resource Center, Staff Assistance, University Police and Rape Advocacy, Counseling and Education Services (RACES) on campus to promote awareness about domestic violence, ” Griffiths said.
A candle light vigil will be held on University Quad on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.
After Domestic Violence Awareness Month is over, you can still show your support. Courage Connection has numerous volunteer opportunities for students. From volunteering as playgroup supervisor, working at the front desk, partaking in the Outreach and Fundraising department to providing direct service to domestic violence clients, Courage Connection welcomes all interested individuals with all kinds of experiences. The agency also provides training before initiating work at the homeless shelter.
“Come join us. Show solidarity. Show that you understand that even though you have not been impacted by domestic violence, someone you know may have been or may become one,” Griffiths said. “Show that you care.”