For over 20 years, the YWCA has dedicated the third week of October to being a Week Without Violence. This year, Week Without Violence is October 14 – 20. A part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the mission of Week Without Violence is to mobilize people in communities across the United States to take action against all forms of violence, wherever it occurs.
In our front lobby in downtown Birmingham is the “Silent Witness” project, a display of women’s silhouettes that present several tragic deaths of domestic violence. The “Silent Witness” project is a strong reminder that those who have lost their lives to domestic violence cannot testify to its all-too-often fatal consequences. Also this week, the YWCA Central Alabama’s Children in Crisis program initiated a clothesline art project called “Feeling Safe at Home,” where children who have been witnesses of domestic violence depicted what it feels like when they are safe at home. Their pieces of art will be hung on a clothesline in the front lobby of our downtown building throughout the month of October.
This week, Johnny Lee, founder of Peace@Work, is at the YWCA Central Alabama’s downtown Birmingham location to present a workshop on domestic violence in the workplace. Peace@Work is an initiative created by Lee to help prevent the often overlooked prevalence of domestic violence in the workplace. His presentation at the YWCA will cover topics such as red flags and warning signs of domestic violence, why domestic violence occurs in business and even how it can affect your health care costs and employee productivity. Lee’s presentation will shed light on just how far-reaching the consequences of domestic violence can be, even beyond the personal physical and psychological.
Last week, the YWCA commemorated Domestic Violence Awareness Month by hosting a Healthy Relationships workshop at Minor High School. At this particular workshop at Minor High School, students, faculty and YWCA staff had the privilege of hearing a speech by First Lady Diane Bentley, a strong advocate for the awareness and prevention of domestic violence. The First Lady spoke to the audience and participated in some of the activities provided for the students. The YWCA Central Alabama offers the Healthy Relationships Program for area middle schools and high schools. The program utilizes the Safe Dates curriculum, an evidence-based curriculum that has been designated as a Model Program by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and was selected for the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), receiving high ratings on all criteria. Safe Dates helps teens recognize the difference between caring, supportive relationships, and controlling, manipulative, or abusive relationships.
Lastly, a very special thanks for all the support with our collaboration with The Allstate Foundation for the Purple Purse Campaign. With your help, we have surpassed our goal by passing the purple purse over 1,000 times! This will result in The Allstate Foundation donating $10,000 toward our domestic violence services! These are much needed funds in these economic times—thank you, Alltstate Foundation!
As “eliminating racism, empowering women” is our mission, Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a very important time at the YWCA. And even beyond domestic violence specifically, Week Without Violence is a time to reflect and become more aware of how all forms of violence can be approached and prevented. Awareness starts with open minds and open hearts, and it continues with hard work and active engagement. We thank all of those who assist the YWCA Central Alabama in promoting the prevention and awareness of domestic violence.
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