October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Hands of Hope Resource Center, the local domestic violence program is part of a statewide effort to raise awareness around the domestic violence homicides. The Live Violence Free flag campaign, an initiative of the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, was launched Oct. 1. Domestic and sexual violence programs across the state are flying the Live Violence Free flags for the first week of October as this public awareness campaign begins. The flag will fly at the Hands of Hope Resource Center in the Government Center in Little Falls through Monday.
On Nov. 25, 1960, the three Mirabal sisters were murdered in the Dominican Republic by military intelligence after months of torture. The sisters were active in the underground and took part in activities against the dictator.
In 1981 at a meeting of Latin American and Caribbean feminists in Bogota Colombia, the participants paid tribute to the Mirabel sisters and the date of their death as a memorial for all the victims of violence against women and girls. In 1999, the United Nation’s General Assemble designated Nov. 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Terre des Femmes, a women’s rights non-governmental organization in Germany developed a flag campaign to promote awareness of violence against women and recognize the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The Live Violence Free flag was designed and distributed to towns and cities throughout Germany. Since 2001, the flag has been distributed to more than 800 organizations in approximately 90 countries. Each organization uses the flag to increase awareness.
The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women (MCBW) purchased the rights to use the flag in Minnesota. The Live Violence Free Flag will be used in conjunction with the Femicide Report that MCBW releases each year. The Coalition tracks the domestic violence homicides that occur in the state. Each time a domestic violence homicide occurs in Minnesota, the Coalition will ask people/programs that have the flag, to display it for one week to honor the homicide victim and to raise awareness across that state.
Thirty-three Minnesotans have been murdered as a result of domestic violence this year. Even more startling is that in 2012, 63,267 victims sought services from domestic violence programs. This represents only a small portion of the victims in the state since the vast majority of domestic violence victims do not reach out for services. National statistics are that only about one out of every five domestic violence victims seek services.
The Live Violence Free Flag campaign is a way for individuals and programs to do something in response to domestic violence homicides and to become part of a statewide initiative addressing domestic violence. The goal is to have a unified response and a visual presence in every community whenever a domestic violence homicide occurs and that will keep domestic violence concerns a part of local conversation.
“Domestic violence is not just about the individuals who suffer abuse; it is about an environment that promotes, excuses or ignores violence. Providing services to victims of abuse is critical for those individuals; engaging the full community is essential for ending violence. The flag campaign is one approach for wider, on-going community engagement,” said Deanna Thompson, domestic violence and safe home coordinator with Hands of Hope.
Individuals, businesses and agencies are all invited to be a part of the Live Violence Free campaign. For more information about the flag campaign and information about domestic violence, contact Hands of Hope Resource Center at 320-632-1657 or go to the Coalition’s website at www.mcbw.org
The public is invited to stop by the Hands of Hope Resource Center to view the Live Violence Free flag and to discuss how they can also participate in the campaign. Staff at Hands of Hope also encourages everyone to participate in their first annual “Paint it Purple Campaign.”
“We encourage you to wear purple (clothes, nails, ribbons, etc) during the month of October to show your support of domestic violence prevention. Balance Salon and Massage in Little Falls is also participating by offering a purple hair extension with a $5 donation towards domestic violence prevention,” said Thompson.
Anyone who is experiencing abuse, may contact Hands of Hope Resource Center at (320) 632-4878 or Day One at 1 (866) 223-1111 to connect with services.