One in four women, one in seven men, and one in fifteen children will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
In October, the nation observes National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and shines a spotlight on what each of us can do to end domestic violence. Each year 30 percent of the nation’s female murder victims are killed by intimate partners. YWCA identifies them as “silent witnesses” and hosts a vigil in their memory.
On Oct. 24, members of the community in St. Clair County gathered in front of the courthouse in Pell City to remember these “silent witnesses” and other survivors of domestic violence.
Pell City Mayor Bill Pruitt gave a proclamation from the City of Pell City declaring October Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“Even though we may come from a whole variety of backgrounds, and bring a whole lot of different experiences,” Pruitt addressed the crowd on Thursday night. “Whether you can relate to this or not, whether you have experienced this or not, this event and the work that y’all do is just so crucial to bring awareness and to let those that are trapped in that situation know that we are out here for you and here to put an end to this.”
For two decades YWCA USA has set aside a week to host informative events and advocate for an end to violence against women and girls. It’s an observance YWCA Central Alabama has taken up locally for many years by hosting an annual candlelight vigil that brings together victims of domestic violence and advocates against it.
St. Clair County District Attorney Lyle Harmon said, “When we look at ourselves, look at humanity, it’s human nature to think it’s not going to happen to me, it’s not going to happen here. We don’t have to look to our neighboring counties, we just have to look out the courthouse window.”
Harmon said that he, along with his office and law enforcement are available for those going through domestic violence. Victims can also contact the YWCA for help.
Vernetta Bowman, Rural Services Director, said that according to statistics from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, nearly 1000 people from St. Clair Co. were assaulted, raped or robbed by someone who said they loved them. Statewide in 2017, 33 people were killed in domestic violence, making up seven percent of the 432 homicides in state.
“We must work to end this cycle,” Bowman added. “Know the warning signs, and don’t be afraid to talk about them.”
In 2018, YWCA Central Alabama’s DV Services fielded 1,688 crisis hotline calls and provided 10,503 nights of safety for 226 adults and 211 children in two shelters. Nearly 3,000 people received domestic violence outreach and training, and 1,677 students were taught about healthy dating relationships.
The local YWCA Domestic Violence Services program provides emergency shelters for victims of domestic violence, manages a 24/7 crisis hotline, 205-322-HURT (4878), and provides court advocacy, legal representation, individual and group counseling for those in need.