October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and The DOVE Project is back with its second annual “We Believe Survivors” campaign.
Throughout uptown Vashon, over 50 island businesses and organizations can be seen dawning purple lights, along with “We Believe Survivors” signs in hopes of bringing visibility to a local and national crisis.
Advocates at The DOVE Project (DOVE), the island’s domestic violence agency, spent the last week of September connecting with local businesses to bring the purple lights back again this year.
“Local businesses have once again been so supportive and excited to participate in the Purple Lights campaign for DV Awareness Month. It’s so powerful to see the community collaborate in support of survivors and their stories,” said Tracy McLaren, an advocate with DOVE.
Business owners participating in the campaign said they felt strongly about supporting the message.
Matt Lawrence, owner of Camp Colvos Brewery, said he believes the purple light campaign is a worthwhile cause.
“It is important to me that our customers and our community see Camp Colvos Brewing participate in this campaign. We do not tolerate domestic violence,” he said. “I am grateful for the Dove Project and all they are doing. I hope that help can be given to people in need.”
Jake Heil of Ruby Brink said the campaign is another example of the importance of community collaboration.
“For us at The Ruby Brink, we see moments of organized solidarity as powerful tools to refocus priorities for resources and attention to issues that can be easily brushed aside as someone else’s problem. The purple lights campaign, during a time when we all are examining what we care about and how to care about each other, is a poignant call to support victims of domestic abuse with real action,” he said. “It’s not about the lights, it’s about allowing the lights throughout town to lead us to donate, to be long term volunteers, or to reach out to someone who might need help and show them they aren’t alone.”
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) website reports that on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During a single year, that equates to more than 10 million individuals. One in fifteen children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year and 90% of these children are direct eyewitnesses to the violence.
Rashaun Renggli, an advocate for DOVE, talked about the current national crisis and the impact on survivors.
“Statistics show that rates of domestic violence are increasing across the nation due to COVID-19 isolation and we’re seeing similar increases across King County as well. Advocates are seeing more survivors than they’ve ever seen before and the lethality level has also increased, all while attempting to maintain our own mental health during a pandemic,” he said.
NCADV also reports that Washington State statistics show that on any given day, over 1900 survivors seek services with over 500 being turned away due to lack of resources.
Nyn Grey, a fellow advocate for DOVE, talked about the unique needs of survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What we’ve seen at DOVE is an increased need for legal advocacy and affordable housing,” Grey said. “Currently, shelter waitlists are over 50 people long per shelter. Many DV survivors are also having trouble finding attorneys they can afford. Our legal advocate has been working overtime for survivors since March. The purple lights, dawned by local businesses and community organizations, are a way to highlight the real and continued needs of survivors in the Vashon community.”
Later this month on Saturday, Oct. 24, The DOVE Project will be hosting their annual Share Hope Fundraiser. This year the theme is Beloved Community, a concept popularized by Martin Luther King, Jr. Beloved Community means a world free of oppression, discrimination, violence, and bigotry that is fueled instead by friendship, goodwill, and deep human connection. The Fundraiser will have a keynote presentation by renowned Chicago-based activist and artist Scheherazade Tillet, hosted by the islands own Jeff Hoyt. ASL interpretation will be available.
For more information about this event or resources related to domestic violence or sexual assault, visit The DOVE Project website at vashondoveproject.org.