Center for Survivors takes on new initiatives for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October 10, 2018

Center for Survivors officials are doing their part to make sure Domestic Violence Awareness Month doesn’t go unnoticed in October.

“We wanted to do activities that would promote awareness and also thank the support of our community,” said Lia Grant, executive director of Center for Survivors, a nonprofit organization providing services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault within Boone, Butler, Colfax, Nance, Platte and Polk counties. “This is the work we do, so we wanted to bring awareness to domestic violence and we want people to know we are here and how they can get help.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women fall victim to severe physical violence by an intimate partner and one in seven men experienced domestic violence.

Throughout the month, Grant said the idea is to not only spread awareness but to also increase community connection and showcase appreciation to those who continuously give back to the organization. Year after year, the chapter is known to honor the month through a vigil remembering those who have lost their lives to domestic violence in Columbus and throughout the state.

Although important, Services Director Abbie Tessendorf said the vigil brings too much sadness and members decided to switch it up by introducing new activities and initiatives. These activities include the Chili Feed held Sunday at IC Sanctuary, as well as the Drive-Thru Coffee Stop on Tuesday and Oct. 2. Food and drinks were donated by organization members and volunteers.

“We wanted to not only thank our partner, youth- and victim-serving agencies, but reach out to people that we wouldn’t normally see to say thank you because those are the people who donate to us,” Tessendorf said. “They drop things off. They volunteer.”

Members also planned surprise visits to various local agencies with free coffee in hand as a token of appreciation.

“We just picked people who have been supportive of us and partner agencies that have worked with us and just dropped off coffee with some creamer,” Tessendorf said. “It’s just a fun little thank you.”

Outreach Advocate Janet Schlueter said coffee stops within the organization’s jurisdiction are excited to be a part of this month’s initiative. Owners of 17 different businesses like The Broken Mug, Hy-Vee, and Casey’s General Stores locations, have agreed to carry the organization’s coffee sleeves with contact information.

Schlueter said community members can either keep the sleeves or passed the information along to someone in need.

Through the initiatives, members hope to break any stereotypes linked to the organization. They also aim to encourage more community members to help those in need by referring them to available resources.

“We are trying to let people know anyone can make a difference,” Tessendorf said.

People are encouraged to support the cause by wearing purple on Oct. 19 to make their stance against domestic violence, as well as showcase their support to victims, survivors and families affected by it.

When it comes to domestic violence cases, Tessendorf said leaving immediately is not always the solution, especially when there are children involved.

But, Tessendorf said people tend to be intimated as they walk through the doors afraid they might be judged or recognized, which is never the case. She said advocates are open to help anyone from all walks of life, regardless of age, gender, race and ethnicity.

Each advocate works closely with clients to come up with a plan that suit their individual needs.

Those wishing to seek help or learn more about the organization are encouraged to call 402-564-2155.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981 and conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, according to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children.

“We have all kinds of people walk in here,” said Traci Pilar, volunteer coordinator at Center for Survivors. “We want everybody to feel like it is OK to come here.”

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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