domestic violence week ribbon
ALTON — Most people are aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and will participate in events, wear pink ribbons and celebrate survivors.
Some may not know October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Women who face the struggles, pain and fears of domestic violence don’t wear a ribbon to show their strength or talk about their experiences publicly. In most cases their situation is not reported at all — until it’s too late.
The Alton Police Department is sponsoring a fund-raising walk Thursday, Sept. 18, to raise awareness and funds for the Oasis Women’s Center in Alton. The cost is $5 to participate in the Domestic Violence Awareness Walk. Participants will meet at 7 p.m. at the Alton Amphitheater and be bused to the Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic church, where there will be live entertainment. From there, participants walk as a group back to the amphitheater and listen to testimonials from domestic violence survivors.
“Last year, police officers placed purple ribbons on the squad cars to recognize domestic violence awareness,” said Pfc. Emily Hejna of the Alton Police Department. “No one knew what they meant or what they stood for ... Chief Simmons wanted to change that. All proceeds are going to the Oasis Women’s Center and we appreciate the Alton Visitors Bureau arranging for the bus and the driver for the event.”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, about 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year and one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. About one-third of female homicide victims reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner. Out of fear, shame, or in the act of protecting the attacker, less than one-fifth of victims reporting an injury from intimate partner violence sought medical treatment following the injury. In 70 to 80 percent of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder.
The financial burden is another aspect of domestic violence that lingers in darkness. Many may not know that the cost of domestic violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year, of which $4.1 billion is for medical bills, counseling and mental health services. Victims lost almost 8 million work days because of the violence perpetrated against them by current or former husbands, boyfriends and even in dating situations. This loss is the equivalent to more than 32,000 full-time jobs and almost 5.6 million days of household productivity as a result. In some cases, if domestic violence occurs in the home, children are victims as well.
“People not knowing what the ribbons were spurred a lot of good conversation, but it really bothered me,” Alton Police Chief Jake Simmons said. “My wife, Shelly, along with Barb Buhs (wife of Alton police sergeant Terry Buhs), Janice Dunphy and PJ Bollini have all worked very hard to make this event happen. I really hope they know how much I appreciate their efforts.”
To participate in the domestic violence walk, register with Emily Hejna by calling (618) 436-3502 or email at email@example.com. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can call the Oasis Women’s Center at (618) 465-1978 or go to 11 Market St. in Alton for assistance.