City Notes: Domestic-violence awareness in Whitehall lasts more than one month

Kim Maggard
Guest columnist

As we head deeper into November, I am reminded that in the seasons of life, fall often is referred to as a time for slowing down and finding respite from our long-hard work.

But for a community that recognizes and promotes October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, this season is in fact a time during which we as advocates stand together and double down on our efforts to ensure that anyone and everyone affected by domestic violence is not alone.

Kim Maggard

This year, these efforts could not be more needed as we all intentionally isolate ourselves to our homes to help fight the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Sadly, as we stay home more, we also are reminded that what can be a safe haven for many might be an inescapable, toxic environment for others.

The bottom line is that everyone – women, children and men alike – deserves healthy home relationships, free from physical, mental and sexual abuse. Although the decision to leave an abusive relationship is highly personal, that doesn’t diminish the value that a supportive community provides to survivors of domestic violence.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that survivors might stay in abusive relationships longer because of financial barriers, children, religious beliefs, immigration status and social pressures.

Whether it’s lack of resources, fear of homelessness, shame, love, intimidation, children or some other factor, leaving an abusive relationship is anything but simple.

But when a community surrounds those in these unbelievably difficult situations with support and direct access to resources, those barriers can be overcome together.

In fact, Domestic Violence Awareness Month originated from a longstanding “Day of Unity,” first started by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in the early 1980s.

Today, Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a national observance that supports survivors and encourages us all to speak out against domestic violence. And in line with these ideals, the Whitehall community unites each October in ways seen and unseen to raise awareness of domestic violence.

The most public display of unity is the purple flags we proudly display on South Yearling Road each October in solidarity with cities across the nation to help spread awareness.

Behind the scenes, Whitehall has been a leader in supporting domestic-violence survivors, with a two-decade history of having a domestic-violence advocate on staff at City Hall.

And of equal importance are the many ways in which resources are supported through donations to agencies like LSS Choices, which provides shelter, assistance and tools to those fighting to leave abusive relationships.

Although we have now welcomed November and the purple flags around town have been removed, know that you never are alone in our community and that help can be found here year-round.

For help, contact the city of Whitehall Domestic Violence Advocate at 614-237-9802, or for a 24/7/365 hotline, call Choices at 614-224-4663.

Kim Maggard is mayor of Whitehall.