The Domestic Violence Coordinating Council ushered in Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the Big Bend Region, with their annual Behind the Door March and Domestic Violence Program aimed at bringing awareness and prevention tools to the community. Many college students and community partners marched from Florida State University, Florida A & M University and the State Capitol to bring the message of the plight of domestic violence to the streets of Tallahassee on September 23, 2015. The marchers ended the demonstration at the FSU Turnbull Center where dialogue was able to take place in a safe and supportive environment.
This year, a survivor shared her story and the riveting details of how she managed to stay in a relationship that was verbally and physically abusive, yet after many years successfully escaped. A panel discussion was held at the end of the evening with representatives from the local domestic violence shelter, legal services, counseling and other community agencies. The panelists were given an opportunity to answer questions from those in attendance, which dealt with everything from injunction assistance to issues with substance abuse. This evening, which included a time for great conversation and fellowship over a meal, served as the springboard for the next month, October, known as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
On October 14, Wakulla County also held a very informative event surrounding the issue of domestic violence involving sibling violence. There was an educational component to the luncheon where the audience learned that sibling abuse is a common concern; there are red flags for siblings and parents to be aware of, information on how to receive help if needed. There was also a survivor speaker that shared her story as a survivor of sibling abuse, making it very clear to the audience how this abuse was perpetrated and the affect it can have on the victim and the family. The audience was able to walk with the survivor through their journey of enlightenment and ultimately empowerment after being able to free herself from that violent relationship.
There are so many campaigns across the nation about healthy and unhealthy relationships, red flags to look for, how to respect yourself and the person you are with, how to communicate effectively, resolving conflict and much more. Is this education, prevention and awareness working or is the effort a moot point?
Every year the Tallahassee area holds vigils, workshops, and other awareness events to keep the issue of domestic violence at the forefront of the minds of the citizens of Tallahassee. This topic is not one that the community can brush under the rug and pretend it isn’t happening. It is not a topic that can be ignored when there are so many reports in the media every day about how victims are suffering. As long as there is the crime of domestic violence occurring, there will be an advocate ready to have that very needed discussion, offer support and services, as well as a place of safety; so hopefully one day this topic will no longer be one for discussion.