Commemorating Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Living on the streets or being abused is not a decision anyone should have to make; but, unfortunately, the choice is all too common. According to a survey cited in the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ Domestic Violence Fact Sheet, domestic violence is the second most frequently stated cause of homelessness in families.

When we take a closer look at our own state, Florida, a study cited in the ACLU Domestic Violence and Homelessness 2008 Fact Sheet found that 46% of domestic violence survivors became homeless due to the violence. Of the survivors surveyed, 83% reported they had few suitable options for a place to live once they left the abusive situation.  A lack of affordable housing combined with a fear being further abused often leads victims to seek help from shelters.

At the Coalition, we are proud of the services we are able to offer those who find themselves homeless as the result of a crime, such as domestic violence. Our Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Program enables us to provide shelter, food, support, and services to our clients at the Women’s Residential and Counseling Center (WRCC) and Center for Women and Families (CWF) who are victims of crime. Last year, we provided resources to over 800 victims of crime at the WRCC alone.

To commemorate October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, clients and staff at the Coalition are participating in activities throughout the entire month.

Kicking off the month, the residents at the WRCC and CWF took part in The Clothesline Project. This project gives victims of domestic violence the opportunity to express their emotions by decorating a t-shirt and displaying it on a clothesline with other such shirts as a testament to their struggle.

On both campuses, there are several events planned that will allow both women and children to get involved. Guest speakers for adults and youngsters will be featured, with topics ranging from loving yourself to loving and respecting pets. Hands-on activities such as art therapy for children and a pampering day for women will also be offered.

The culmination of the month’s events is a closing ceremony at WRCC that will include a speaker, music, victims’ testimonies, and poems. After the ceremony, each person will light a candle as the group sings songs. The children will join their mothers and present them with their art project. The day will end in celebration, as balloons, bearing one-word messages that represent a painful memory, will be released into the air. This is a symbolic sign of the victims’ release of past hurts and their hope of healing for the future.