October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) and the Purple Light Nights Campaign is showing support for domestic abuse survivors, and the movement has come to Pittsburg.
In the Pittsburg community, a number of events are being held to spread awareness and make a statement against domestic violence. A kick-off event was held at 6:30 on Monday, Oct. 1 at the Spigarelli Law Firm. Following the event, the trees along Broadway Street were aglow with purple lights.
“I like to say it’s not only to raise awareness for domestic violence, it’s a statement that our community makes; ‘domestic violence has no place here,’” Ali Smith, prevention education specialist at the Safehouse Crisis Center, said. “I think our community is really making a statement that we want to show survivors that this is a community that they can feel safe in and people care about them and support them.”
The Purple Light Nights campaign began in Washington and has grown since then. What started as a few individuals switching their porch lights for purple bulbs has now spread to shine a purple light on the trees on Broadway.
“When we were looking at this campaign to bring here, and I was talking to our executive director about it, she thought of all the trees that line Broadway street and so she brought that idea up,” Smith said. “I was like, ‘okay, who owns the trees in Pittsburg?”
Along with setting up the logistics of the lit trees, Smith set out to find sponsors. Several local businesses contributed to sponsor the solar-powered tree lighting, which will be on display all October. Along with the purple glow along Broadway, the community is invited to several events in honor of DVAM. From a DVAM information table on the 6th at the Pittsburg Farmers Market, to a donation drive drop off from 10-3 on Halloween, there are opportunities all month long to partake in.
“We do have another volunteer opportunity at the end of this campaign: to take the lights down on November 1st. Anyone can contact me to get on that list to volunteer, because we’ll need help to take those down,” Smith said. “And then next year, we’ll probably need volunteers to put them back up and just keep telling people why they’re purple!”
Support from the community has allowed this campaign to take off in Pittsburg. Local businesses such as the Spigarelli Law Firm, Audacious Boutique, Jock’s Nitch, Sugar Rush, and Eagle Beverage showed their support for the campaign. This project has not only raised awareness, but also brought the community together to take a stand against domestic violence.
“I presented it to the Downtown Advisory Board; they and everyone else in Pittsburg has really supported the idea and embraced it, and helped sponsor it,” Smith said. “We have sponsors from community businesses and individuals even, who sponsored trees so we could purchase the lights, and we had volunteers on Sunday that strung up the lights.”
Sugar Rush, an ice cream and treat shop located on Broadway, was one of the businesses that sponsored the trees along the street. They didn’t stop there, however; Sugar Rush also donated 10 percent of their profits on Oct. 1 to the Purple Light Nights Campaign.
“… Safe House reached out to me as a business owner,” Janie Williams, owner of Sugar Rush, said. “I took a huge interest in their campaign not only as a business owner, but I also work in the courts handling protection orders. I have seen domestic violence first hand and what it does to families. Domestic violence is a learned and preventable behavior. We need to grow public awareness of domestic violence as both a crime and a public health crisis to create a demand for effective prevention programs that helps stop violence before it starts. On the other side of the scope, economic independence can transform a vulnerable victim into a safe survivor. A lack of financial resources forces many battered women to stay with or return to their abusers. Places like Safehouse not only provide them a way out it also provides emotional support and resources for a new start.”
Students for Violence Prevention, the peer education group at Pitt State, is also participating in holding activities for Domestic Violence Awareness month, including Shatter the Silence Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. in the Governor’s Room of the Overman Student Center, a book club discussion Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. in room 115 of Axe Library, and Clean Up Domestic Violence, an initiative to gather donations for the Safehouse Crisis Center that will end Oct. 31 (registration ends Oct. 29). More information about these events can be gathered by contacting SVP at 620-235-4831.