Domestic Violence Awareness Month started as a "Day of Unity" that happened in October 1981 created by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The Day of Unity turned into a week of activities at state, local, and national levels including mourning victims, celebrating survivors, and connecting people who are working to fight against DV.
The first DVAM was observed in 1987 and in 1989, Congress designated October National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Today, the first Monday of DVAM, is the Day of Unity.
Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services
DVSAS is a local nonprofit based in Bellingham. I have been a volunteer advocate for them for over a year. Their mission is "to support individuals affected by domestic violence and sexual assault and to lead the community towards ending these abuses of power." I love volunteering for DVSAS because it gives me a chance to give back to the community and really help people. It's also opened up my eyes to how big a problem DV and SA still are in our world, and how much work we have to do to overcome these problems. I'm volunteering at several events this month, but my normal work as an advocate is taking calls to our 24 hour hotline and providing medical advocacy at the ER for DV and SA survivors.
One of the services that Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services provides for the community is called The Empowerment Project. The Empowerment Project sends us out to local 6-12 grade students to give a 3 day (45-80 min per day depending on the class period length) presentation on dating and domestic violence and sexual assault. I am really excited about the opportunity to be one of the first volunteers trained to do these presentations!
A new volunteer training class starts this week, and they have a wish list and other ways to donate online.
Womencare Shelter is a confidential emergency shelter, also here in Bellingham. They have a 24 hour helpline and in addition to shelter, they provide other important services like advocacy, help finding housing, support groups, financial planning and sponsorship for educational scholarships. Womencare is always looking for donations and volunteers, and have their wish list posted on their website.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
NCADV's Mission Statement and Purpose is listed on their website.
"The Mission of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) is to organize for collective power by advancing transformative work, thinking and leadership of communities and individuals working to end the violence in our lives.They are a great resource and provide information on their website like ways to donate, information about public policy, resources for survivors and educators and upcoming events.
NCADV believes violence against women and children results from the use of force or threat to achieve and maintain control over others in intimate relationships, and from societal abuse of power and domination in the forms of sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, anti-Semitism, able-bodyism, ageism and other oppressions. NCADV recognizes that the abuses of power in society foster battering by perpetuating conditions, which condone violence against women and children. Therefore, it is the mission of NCADV to work for major societal changes necessary to eliminate both personal and societal violence against all women and children.
NCADV's work includes coalition building at the local, state, regional and national levels; support for the provision of community-based, non-violent alternatives - such as safe home and shelter programs - for battered women and their children; public education and technical assistance; policy development and innovative legislation; focus on the leadership of NCADV's caucuses developed to represent the concerns of organizationally under represented groups; and efforts to eradicate social conditions which contribute to violence against women and children."
National Network to End Domestic Violence
NNEDV is another national organization "dedicated to creating a social, political and economic environment in which violence against women no longer exists."
One of their big projects is The Safety Net Project, which "addresses how technology impacts the safety, privacy and accessibility rights of victims. The Safety Net Project educates victims, their advocates and the general public on ways to use technology strategically to help find safety and escape domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, stalking and abuse."
Domestic Violence Awareness Project
The Domestic Violence Awareness Project is "is a diverse and unique partnership of local, tribal, state and national domestic violence organizations and networks. The DVAP collaborates to collect, develop and distribute resources and ideas relevant to advocates' ongoing public and prevention awareness and education efforts not only in preparation for DVAM, but also throughout the year."
You can find lots of information on DVAM and how to increase awareness and support DV survivors at their website.
Violence Unsilenced is an amazing website created by Maggie Ginsberg-Schutz after she received amazing response when she posted on her personal website about abuse. She launched the site in February of 2009. VU gives survivors of sexual and domestic abuse a place to tell their story in their own words. It's an amazing place of support, healing, and sharing.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Get safe. Contact the hotline for local resources, safety planning, and support.
Events in Bellingham
If you want to support survivors, learn more about domestic violence, or help raise awareness, here are some local events around Bellingham this month.
October 7 - Domestic Violence Awareness Month Vigil
6:00 - 7:00 p.m. Whatcom County Courthouse (311 Grand Ave)
The vigil will include music and speakers addressing what is being done in the community to address domestic violence. The Seventh Annual Domestic Violence Outstanding Achievement Award will also be presented. Free. For more information call Merrilee Gardner at 671- 8539.
October 12 - Labyrinth Walk for Healing
Between 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. Bellingham Cruise Terminal (355 Harris Ave)
All members of the community are encouraged to join in a labyrinth walk for healing. A labyrinth is a symbol that relates to wholeness. Walking the labyrinth represents a journey to our center and back again into the world. There will be art materials available for an art project. The Labyrinth Walk is sponsored by the Bellingham-Whatcom County Commission Against Domestic Violence. Free. Call Sharry at 734-3720 for more information.
October 16 - Born in Flames: The DVSASlam
7pm doors open, event begins at 8 p.m. Jinx Art Space (306 Flora St.)
Citizens of Bellingham rejoice! Once again poetrynight brings you our annual slam to benefit DVSAS of Whatcom County. Six ladies take the stage to bring you "Born in Flames: The DVSASlam," an evening of spoken word performances, live music and libations! Best of all, every dime and dollar raised go directly to ending domestic violence in our community. $7
October 20-22 - Healing Generations to Change the Future
9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Lummi Community Building (2334 Lummi View Dr.)
For more information call 384-2285.
October 20 - Self Defense Class
6:00 - 7:30 p.m. at DVSAS (1407 Commercial St)
Susan Dechanes from Kick it Studio will teach basic self-defense for women. The class is free, for more information call 671-8539.
October 26 - Intersections: Chemical Dependency and Domestic Violence with Cynthia Obtinario
2:00 - 4:00pm YWCA Ballroom (1026 N. Forest St.)
Cynthia Obtinario, from New Beginnings in Seattle, brings decades of experience in the chemical dependency field as well as nearly 12 years of experience in gender specific treatment and domestic violence victim services. Cindy has provided numerous workshops specializing in the integration of domestic violence and chemical dependency. Currently she provides: advocacy for women with substance use issues, consultation for staff, and community education on these topics. Also passionate about systems advocacy, Cindy was involved in the inception of Triple Play and is a current board member for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV). $10 ($5 students) For more information contact Ann Suloway 734-4820 ext. 106.
If you have any interest in becoming a volunteer, there are two opportunities to get involved starting soon!
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services Volunteer Training begins October 9.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services, please call 671-5714 or check www.dvsas.org for more information.
Womencare Shelter Volunteer Training
Make a meaningful contribution by becoming a volunteer. Trainings held every three months. For more information please call 671-8539.
Please join me and so many others in celebration, support, and making people aware of Domestic Violence and how we can help put an end to it.