Nationwide, October is celebrated as the start of fall. Children look forward to Halloween. Christmas decorations make their appearances in our stores, and more recently October became designated as breast cancer awareness month.
There is another awareness event that October is also known for, maybe not as widely known, but for those whose lives it touches, it is well known. October is domestic violence awareness month. Nationwide domestic violence advocates, centers, survivors and their families are participating in events, celebrations and even memorials to bring attention to the violence that is occurring in our cities, neighborhoods and homes.
Violence against women is a serious and pervasive problem in our community and in our country. Every day women are beaten and killed by the men who claim to love them.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that, in 2003, on average, husbands and boyfriends murdered more than three women a day in this country. Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports that in 2008, Pasco County had over 9,000 domestic violence crimes committed including three domestic violence murders.
Sunrise of Pasco County Inc. has been working tirelessly to help victims of domestic and sexual violence and end abuse in our community for the past 27 years. This year, Sunrise has expanded that work to include additional education programs to include more focus on prevention. Educating our children that violence against women is wrong, educating our community on how to deal with inappropriate jokes, advertising and display materials that demean women or condone violence against women.
But these efforts are not enough. Violence against women affects all of us — every family, every workplace and every community. And each one of us has a role to play in ending abuse.
Action can be as simple as teaching boys that violence against women is always wrong, contributing money or clothing to local battered women's or rape crisis centers, volunteering time to a program that aids victims of family violence, offering support to victims of abuse or putting a bumper sticker on your car to raise awareness about the problem. It should include urging Congress to continue to fully fund all the provisions in the Violence Against Women Act and any other funding opportunities available for local centers.
Individuals who want to get involved should learn all they can about domestic violence and the affects on our community, families and co-workers. Sunrise of Pasco lists information on our Web site, sunrisepasco.org or call the administrative office at (352) 521-3358.
If you know someone is being abused, or if you suspect abuse is occurring in someone's life, you can call our offices for information. A 24-hour hotline is also available at (352) 521-3120 or toll-free at 1-800-500-1119.
Sunrise of Pasco County Inc. is a private, not-for-profit human services agency. All programs and services are confidential and free of charge.
Ending domestic and sexual violence in our community is possible, but it requires a commitment from every one of us. During domestic violence awareness month, represented by the color purple, and all year long, let's all resolve to help stop violence against women and children, and support victims of abuse. Wear your purple ribbon, purple blouse or even purple shoes with pride.
Penny Morrill is chief executive of Sunrise of Pasco County Inc., Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center.