OSWEGO, NY – It’s been one year since the issue of domestic violence took center stage in our national dialogue in the wake of the NFL’s Ray Rice scandal. While we are encouraged by the heightened awareness, the discussions on social media surrounding why victims stay, and renewed calls for batterer accountability, there is still much work to be done.
The unfortunate reality is that so many of us know someone who has been affected by domestic violence.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Oswego County Opportunities Services to Aid Families program is the domestic violence and rape crisis program serving Oswego County.
The goal at SAF is to raise awareness of the epidemic of domestic violence in Oswego County and to educate individuals on the impact of domestic violence in our communities.
“We feel safer when we think domestic violence happens somewhere else to someone else,” said SAF educator – trainer Sara Gozzi. “But in reality, domestic violence occurs in our neighborhoods and in our families. SAF served more than 600 victims and survivors last year and answered more than 6,400 calls to the Crisis Hotline from those victims and survivors in 2014.”
On a national level, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime and an average of 3 women a day are murdered by an intimate partner.
To give these numbers some perspective, between 2001 and 2012, the amount of women murdered by an intimate partner in the U.S. was nearly double the amount of American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Additionally, new studies suggest half of all women who are homeless in the U.S. are homeless as a result of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is not just acts of abuse perpetrated against heterosexual females by heterosexual males.
Myths such as ‘abuse is mutual in same sex couples’ and ‘domestic violence only occurs within heterosexual couples leads to an increased risk for those identifying as LGBQT to experience violence at the hands of their partner.
These beliefs are isolating and imply there are no resources for an individual that does not identify as heterosexual. Individuals identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or in same sex relationships are also victimized by their partners.
It is estimated that 50% of lesbian women and 2 in 5 gay/bisexual men will experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner in their lifetime; rates significantly higher than those in heterosexual relationships.
While progress have been made in reducing these horrible crimes, more work remains so that every individual is able to live free from fear.
Education and awareness are critical components of prevention and in order to increase the public’s awareness of domestic violence.
Throughout October SAF is collaborating with local businesses and municipalities on a number of projects.
Once again, SAF will have its Silent Witness and Survivor Flag Display traveling throughout the county in recognition of the victims and survivors of domestic violence.
This year, the display will be located in the city of Oswego at the intersection of East First and Mohawk streets, next to Tim Hortons.
A second display will be featured at 455 Main St. in the village of Phoenix in front of the Village Office Building.
A third display can be seen at the entrance to OCO’s Administrative Office building at 239 Oneida St. in the city of Fulton.
A final display will be featured for one week on the SUNY Oswego Hewitt Union Quad.
The red figures in this display represent women who have lost their lives from domestic violence and those that suffer in silence.
The purple flags represent the 623 survivors of abuse and assault that SAF served in 2014.
As part of New York State’s “Shine the Light” campaign, Cayuga Community College’s Fulton Campus will be going purple in an effort to raise awareness.
“Look closely as you drive along 481 and you will see purple lights and giant purple ribbons in their windows,” said Gozzi. “The exterior signage at the main entrance to SUNY Oswego’s campus will also be lit purple on October 21 to coincide with ‘Wear Purple Day.’ Our local Shine the Light campaigns will connect our communities with others across the state by turning New York purple – the symbolic color of domestic violence awareness. The purple lights, which shine best at night, will show our community members that the first step in ending domestic violence is to bring it out of the darkness. The Oswego City Police Department will be supporting our efforts as well. For the second year in a row all of its vehicles will have purple ribbon decals that read Stop Domestic Violence.”
Those ordering pizza during the month of October, may notice a special piece of paper attached to the pizza box.
A number of local pizza places are working with SAF to spread awareness of domestic violence using pizza box toppers.
Finally, Oswego City Mayor Thomas Gillen will present a proclamation prior to the Common Council meeting on October 13.
In addition, Oswego County Legislative Chairman Kevin Gardner will be making a proclamation on October 15 at 2 p.m. in the County Office Building, located in Oswego.
“We encourage community members to learn more about the impact of domestic violence and support these efforts by visiting one of the public displays or attending a proclamation. Community members can also make a statement by participating in New York State’s Wear Purple Day on October 21. Post your pictures on social media using the hashtags #oswegowearspurple, #shinethelight, and #NYDVAM and help us flood social media with purple!” said Gozzi. “Please join us in saying no more to domestic violence this October and every day. Shine a light on this epidemic and bring it out of the darkness. Victims should no longer suffer in isolation and silence. As a community we can work together to say no more!”
If you or someone you know is a survivor of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence or stalking, please call the SAF Crisis Hotline at (315) 342-1600.
The hotline is staffed by trained counselors and is available 24 hours.
SAF is the domestic violence and rape crisis program for Oswego County and has provided crisis, supportive, advocacy and educational services throughout Oswego County for more than 30 years.
Oswego County Opporunities 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 80 separate locations.
For more information, visit www.oco.org