For the second year in a row, Elizabeth’s Village will mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a week-long schedule of events highlighting the issue.
“Survivors of domestic violence is a population Elizabeth’s Village works with, and while we aren’t able to house them, we get calls all the time from women seeking resources and needing support and guidance,” said Emily Metcalfe, program developer at Elizabeth’s Village. “The goal of the week is to highlight that it is an issue in Scott County and I think that it is something we don’t always talk about. We want to spread awareness that violence can be prevented but also those experiencing domestic violence can feel supported and know there are resources in Scott County for them.”
Elizabeth’s Village gets calls weekly from someone in a domestic violence situation, and while the group can’t offer shelter now, they do refer women to Greenhouse 17 in Lexington or Hope’s Wings in Richmond.
“We’d love to have a domestic violence shelter in Georgetown. It is hard to leave the community and the support they may have and pull their kids out of school,” Metcalfe said. “We are working on the early stages of a campaign to have one in Georgetown.”
The goal of Domestic Violence Awareness Week is to educate people on what is domestic violence and what resources are available.
“Domestic violence is not just physical. It can be emotional where the victim is constantly put down and made to feel insecure, crazy or stupid. It can be economic abuse where they are kept from their finances or from working so they are dependent on the person abusing them,” Metcalfe said. “It can be sexual violence.”
They have added an event for teens on healthy relationships.
“We had a lot of young girls come to our self defense class last year, so it got us thinking we needed to have these conversations with them,” she said. “We will be talking about what a healthy relationship looks like and boundaries and safe relationships.”
The week starts with a candlelight vigil on Sunday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. at First Christian Church. A trauma informed yoga class, a book discussion on “Big Little Lies,” self defense class and a simulation of what it is like to get out of a domestic violence situation fill out the week. On Saturday, the Seeking Solace Suitcase Project will again be held. This is when 50 suitcases are packed with toiletries, a book and a resource guide. The suitcases are given to the Georgetown Police Department and they are given out to domestic violence survivors who may need help.
All events are free and open to the public. Contact Elizabeth’s Village or their Facebook page for times and locations. PNC Foundation and Junior League of Lexington funded the week and items for the suitcases, Porter Christian Church donated the toiletries for the suitcases and Scott County Library is donating books.
“I think our relationship with the Georgetown Police Department has gotten stronger, especially with Becky Rhodes, the victims advocate,” said Kandice Whitehouse, Elizabeth’s Village director. “If she knows someone needing help with housing, she knows she can contact us and it has been beneficial for women.”
The biggest benefit of the week may be the safe place it creates for survivors of domestic violence to tell their stories.
“There wasn’t an event last year where a survivor was not in the room who said this happened to me, this happened to my daughter, or happened to my mother. I think it has created a space that is safe where they can tell their story,” said Metcalfe.
“We had several women last year say thank you for creating a place that is safe and empowers me,” Whitehouse added.
Steve McClain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.