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October 17, 2018

OCO’s SAF Program Celebrates 40th Anniversary


OSWEGO, NY – In the 1950s and 1960s, the Civil Rights movement laid the foundation for the Battered Women’s Movement.

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow, joined by members of the Oswego City Police Department, presents representatives from Oswego County Opportunities’ Services to Aid Families program with a proclamation designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Oswego. From left are Officer Bryan Thompson, Officer Stephen Carroll; SAF Advocate / Educator Sara Carmichael, Mayor Billy Barlow, SAF Community Response Coordinator Stacie France, Sgt. James Cunningham, and Police Chief Tory DeCaire.

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow, joined by members of the Oswego City Police Department, presents representatives from Oswego County Opportunities’ Services to Aid Families program with a proclamation designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Oswego. From left are Officer Bryan Thompson, Officer Stephen Carroll; SAF Advocate / Educator Sara Carmichael, Mayor Billy Barlow, SAF Community Response Coordinator Stacie France, Sgt. James Cunningham, and Police Chief Tory DeCaire.

As battered women across the country gathered into shelters, their stories revealed a troubling reality – that abuse, degradation, control, violence, and fear were hidden dimensions of their intimate relationships.

It was an experience shared by many women in any given neighborhood or community.

Activists soon realized that work needed to be done to provide more services to victims and survivors and change the institutions obligated to protect them.

Forty years ago, the Services to Aid Families program was created to provide these services in Oswego County.

In the 1980s, SAF was incorporated as a program under Oswego County Opportunities.

As we recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, we are reminded of the progress we’ve made and the challenges victims and survivors still encounter.

Misconceptions about domestic violence persist – such as the notion that survivors can just leave, that it is the victim’s fault, that domestic violence only includes physical violence, or that domestic violence is a private, family matter.

Victims still face barriers in reporting the abuse and are given unrealistic expectations by the institutions meant to protect them.

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, one in three women will be a victim of domestic or sexual violence.

And each day, an average of three women die at the hands of someone who claimed to love them.

Additionally, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in 15 children are exposed to domestic violence yearly.

And an abuser’s access to a gun increases the risk of intimate partner homicide by 400%.

As the domestic violence and rape crisis program serving Oswego County, SAF has provided crisis, support, advocacy and education services for 40 years.

In 2017, SAF served more than 500 victims and survivors and answered more than 3,700 calls on its Crisis Hotline from those victims and survivors.

“Public awareness is a crucial step in our efforts to help survivors and to intervene in the pattern of power and control that perpetuates domestic violence,” said SAF Community Response Coordinator Stacie France. “This month gives us the opportunity to unite and collaborate with community partners in order to empower victims and survivors and show that we will hold perpetrators accountable.”

Once again, SAF will have its annual “Silent Witness and Survivor Flag Display” at various locations throughout the county, including Breitbeck Park in the city of Oswego, Henley Park in the village of Phoenix, on the SUNY Oswego Campus, and outside the Ainsworth Memorial Library in the village of Sandy Creek.

The red figures in the display represent individuals who have lost their lives from domestic violence and those that suffer in silence.

The purple flags represent the more than 500 victims and survivors SAF served in 2017.

As part of New York State’s Shine the Light campaign, the exterior of Oswego City Hall and the exterior signage at the main entrance to SUNY Oswego’s campus will be lit purple during the month of October.

SAF’s local Shine the Light campaign will connect our communities with others across the state by turning New York purple – the symbolic color of domestic violence awareness.

“Our hope is that when people see these displays or see the purple lights, it will generate conversations and help them recognize that these issues touch so many lives,” said France.

Other events to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month include proclamations by the Oswego County Legislature and Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow.

The Oswego City Police Department will have purple ribbon decals on their patrol vehicles to show its support in ending domestic violence.

Additionally, a number of local pizza shops will use special pizza box toppers to help raise awareness.

Finally, community members are invited to take part in National Wear Purple Day on October 18.

Wear something purple and post your pictures on social media using the hashtags #OswegoWearsPurple, #WearPurpleNYS and #PurpleThursday and help us flood social media with purple.

“For 40 years OCO’s SAF program has assisted victims and survivors of domestic violence,” said Mayor Barlow. “We are proud to support SAF’s efforts. In addition to designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Oswego we will be lighting City Hall in purple, the official color of domestic violence awareness, and placing purple ribbons on the city of Oswego police vehicles. We hope that our collaboration with SAF will increase the public’s knowledge of domestic violence and the devastating affect it has on so many lives.”

“The #MeToo movement shows us that cultural and social change is possible,” said France. “And survivors know their experience, their story, and their safety better than anyone. It is imperative that we listen to survivors, trust them, and withhold judgement. Often, abusers deny their partners’ freedom and independence. Taking a survivor-centered approach empowers survivors by prioritizing their needs and wants and returns the power and control to them.”

If you or someone you know is a victim or survivor of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence or stalking, please call the Crisis Hotline at (315) 342-1600.

The hotline is available 24 hours a day and is free and confidential.

OCO, Inc is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966.

A member agency of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, OCO provides more than 50 vital services throughout 100 separate locations.

For more information, visit www.oco.org.

Did you know? It’s OCO!

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