YWCA, businesses ‘Paint Grand Rapids Purple’ for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DVAM is a time for the community to work towards a culture that supports victims and holds attackers accountable.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan – The month of October is dedicated to raising awareness about domestic violence survivors and honoring the victims, those trapped in an abusive relationship and those whose lives have been taken by their perpetrators.

This is the first year YWCA West Central Michigan is holding Painting the Town Purple to show domestic violence survivors that they are not alone.

Efforts are encouraging people to raise awareness of domestic violence through their shop fronts, signs, literature, purple ribbons, and lightbulbs; throwing a light so the survivors know that the community cares for them.

Purple is the movement’s official color and symbolizes courage, dignity, strength and transformation.

“There is a need for outreach and support for survivors in all factors, demographics and sectors of society,” said Charisse Mitchell, CEO of YWCA West Central Michigan.

According to the YWCA, one in four women and one in seven men has suffered severe physical abuse from an intimate partner.

There are ways to prevent domestic violence. According to Mitchell, it starts with awareness and building examples of healthy relationships for our children.

“How do we disrupt the attitudes, behavior, social norms that make violence order and permissible?” said Mitchell. “By breaking misogynist language and behavior. Creating spaces where tolerance and inclusion are incredibly important and supportive.”

Elk Brewing is one of several companies to attract attention with the YWCA this October. Part of the proceeds from one of their beers goes to a good cause.

“Our mindset was just that women support women. Only support women in general,” said Sydney Cannarozzi, the head brewer. “It was basically our focus this year. We’re trying to find a way that everything we do serves a nice, positive cause.”

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office reported a 35% increase in domestic violence calls at the start of the pandemic. Calls to the YWCA’s own 24-hour helpline doubled.

“When we get to a point where we can take our collective responsibility for the safety of all, we have a chance to bring those numbers down and eliminate domestic violence entirely,” said Mitchell.

The YWCA offers a range of services to domestic and sexual violence survivors ranging from legal assistance, assistance and advice to crisis services, emergency shelters, transitional shelters, nurse examiner programs, and Safe Connections, which offers a supervised parenting and visiting program.

YWCA’s 24-hour confidential hotline: 616-454-YWCA (9922).

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