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October is Domestic Violence Awareness month

October 8, 2018

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse is bringing awareness to the prevalence of domestic abuse in Houston with events throughout the month.

According to https://avda-tx.org, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse was founded in 1980 by the National Council of Jewish Women Greater Houston Section as a non-residential domestic violence center to provide resources for thousands of battered women in need of legal advocacy.

The mission of AVDA is to end family violence by advocating for the safety and self-determination of victims, promoting accountability for abusers and fostering a community response to abuse.

According to AVDA CEO Sherri Kendall, Domestic Violence Awareness Month started from the Day of Unity, in Oct. 1981, as a way to connect advocates across the nation. It then grew into a week long event, and is now the full month observed nation wide.

“The one hope we have is that people make an effort to be more aware of the issues, and not just in Oct., but year round. It has been seen as a private matter for too long. Speak up and speak out,” Kendall said.

Kendall noted that Houston’s rate of domestic violence homicide has increased since last year. Last year there were 43 deaths total, but this year there have already been over 30 deaths by mid-July.

“We need to remember that these are preventable deaths. One death is too much,” Kendall said.

There are multiple events happening throughout the month that people are encouraged to attend to show their support.

Throughout the month, AVDA is one of more than 300 domestic violence agencies across the country participating in this year’s Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse Challenge, helping raise funds for nonprofits working with victims of domestic abuse. Visit https://tinyurl.com/yderprv2 for more information.

There are also AVDA Happy Hour Fundraisers each week at different locations. On Thursday, Oct. 11, the fundraiser will be at Cottonwood, 3422 North Shepherd Drive, starting at 6 p.m. The Happy Hour Fundraiser locations on Thursday, Oct. 18, and Thursday, Oct. 25 are to be determined.

Activities ramp up during the Week of Action, which is Oct. 14-20.

The Montrose-area bridges spanning U.S. Highway 59, as well as Houston City Hall, will be lit purple, the color for domestic violence awareness, on Oct. 15-18.

An Evening of Remembrance, Caring, and Hope will be held on Oct. 15 at 6:15 p.m. in front of Houston City Hall. Co-sponsored by AVDA, Daya and Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, The Interfaith Advisory Council will host this multi-faith vigil, which is in memory of domestic violence victims and in celebration of survivors. Faith leaders will read the names of those who have lost their lives to domestic violence in 2018. Several elected officials are scheduled to speak. This event is free and open to the public.

AVDA’s 13th annual gala fundraiser, The Home Safe Home Gala is on Oct. 17. at The Revaire, 7122 Old Katy Road. This ticketed event features 12 chefs and their dishes paired with wines. All proceeds will benefit AVDA. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit https://one.bidpal.net/homesafehome/welcome.

Oct. 18 is Go Purple Day. Supporters are encouraged to wear purple, and share selfies on social media by tagging AVDA and including #GoPurpleHouston.

The J. McLaughlin Shopping Spree AVDA Fundraiser is Oct. 30. J. McLaughlin in the River Oaks Shopping Center, 1963 West Gray, is hosting a shopping event from 6 to 8 p.m. with 15 percent of proceeds benefiting AVDA. This event is open to the public.

If someone is experiencing domestic abuse, Kendall says the most crucial thing is to reach out and find services.

“Many victims don’t realize how many resources are out there. The Houston area is rich with resources,” Kendall said. “The victim is most vulnerable when they are in the midst of trying to leave, or after they have already left. Safety planning with an advocate is critical to make sure they exit safety.”

According to Kendall, it is important to recognize the abusers as well.

“We recognize that it’s not enough to merely address the victims. We have the largest intervention program,” Kendall said, referencing the Battering Intervention and Prevention Program, which started in 1984.

Kendall noted that it is also important for the community to help open up doors for more opportunities.

“We have a program called Coaching Boys in to Men. We train the coaches to then talk to their male athletes about healthy relationships. We encourage people to opens doors such as that,” Kendall said.

“The number one thing is to recognize that change starts with us,” Kendall said.

Those in need can call AVDA at 713-224-9911, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

rebecca.hazen@chron.com

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