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Family Crisis Services marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Family Crisis Services is encouraging members of the LOU community to “go purple” in solidarity with victims and survivors.

Purple ribbons will be seen throughout the community, on law enforcement vehicles, with yard signs and even in hairstyles. This showing of support is something Mary-Margaret Chaffe, Family Crisis Services program assistant, said is key in identifying victims of domestic violence and showing them there is a way out.

“Family Crisis Services wants to challenge the community of Oxford to stand up against domestic violence to show that domestic violence is not acceptable here or anywhere,” Chaffe said. “Unfortunately, in Oxford a lot of the victims do stay in the shadows. We have women and men who come forward, but a lot of times the cycle of abuse has such a strong hold that we may only see these victims once.

We are working with a lot of folks in town to try and get the awareness out, so people can see there is a place  and there are people they can reach out to for support.”

According to the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women and one in seven men have been victims of violence at the hands of an intimate partner. Adding to that, more than 15,000,000 children witness domestic violence each year.

Family Crisis Services is distributing yard signs that say things like, “Love shouldn’t hurt,” and “15 million children” for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Volunteers with the organization have also created custom-made purple wooden door hangers, which are $30 apiece.

However, Chaffe said, people can support victims and survivors of domestic violence without spending a dime. Anyone can help get the message out by wearing purple (i.e. hats, clothes, jewelry, anything purple) or even painting Halloween pumpkins purple. Suthern Oasis Salon and Spa will also be supporting Domestic Violence Awareness Month by sponsoring creative ways to go purple – and all proceeds will go to Family Crisis Services.

“We hope this will be another conversation starter. Besides the signs, we want people to see these and think about it and learn more about it,” Chaffe said. “Do anything you can that will bring awareness to this worthy campaign.”

During Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2017, Chaffe said Family Crisis Services’ efforts paid off, with an uptick in victims coming forward and seeking help. However, she said, many victims are scared to take a stand against their abuser, or still feel an emotional attachment to them. Since January 2018, fewer than 10 victims have sought help from Family Crisis Services. Of that number, half don’t return.

When a victim comes to Family Crisis Services, though, they’ve got an advocate on their side the entire time, Chaffe said.

“We are here from the initial onset of the situation throughout the entire process. They come in, and we talk and let them share. We go through safety planning, if that’s what they need, and we also have on-site counseling,” Chaffe said. “We do court accompaniments, we go to acquittals, if they need us to. We are here to be their support system, and we’re here to believe them and help them heal through all this.”

Those who are in need, or who would like to purchase a door hanger or pick up a yard sign, can all Family Crisis Services of Northwest Mississippi at 662-234-9929 or 1-800-230-9929. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.