YWCA urges domestic violence awareness

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the YWCA of Greenwich is seeing to it that the town recognizes the issue and its effect on the entire community.

Raising awareness is key in preventing domestic violence, according to YWCA President and CEO Adrianne Singer, who told the Post that the organization has hung purple ribbons all over town, especially in places with heavy foot traffic, to do just that.

More importantly, she said, the ribbons each have a message attached to them, such as “one in four women will experience domestic violence some time in her life,” and the phone number for the Y’s 24/7 domestic abuse hotline, to help educate the community.

Plenty of YWCA awareness events have also been set for October, including the organization’s annual Candlelight Vigil, which takes place tonight, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. in the YWCA Meeting Rooms. The vigil is specifically scheduled for the third week in October, which serves as the YWCA’s Week Without Violence, a signature created by the organization 20 years ago to mobilize people in communities across the United States to take action against domestic violence in all its forms, according to Ms. Singer.

The vigil itself will include lighting candles of hope for the future and celebrating survivors of domestic violence in a “very special event that explains the severe effects of domestic violence,” she said. Event participants will also have the opportunity to view the art exhibition Behind the Mask: Reflections of a Community, which aims to illustrate to the community that domestic violence has many faces and the ability to affect us all.

Ms. Singer said last year’s YWCA statistics show that 5,984 individuals, including 755 children, were provided with a wide range of domestic abuse services by the Greenwich facility. In addition, 123 people, including 77 children, were taken into the Y’s shelter — the largest number of people the organization has ever had to accommodate, she said.

One of the most exciting domestic violence initiatives taking place this year is the YWCA’s participation in the Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse Campaign, Ms. Singer said. The Greenwich facility was one of just 35 YWCA locations around the country chosen to participate in the project. The initiative involves the distribution of 10 purple purses to all of the selected YWCA locations, each of which contains a specific code. The facility is then asked to distribute the code to community members, who must register it at purplepurse.com, thereby giving credit to that specific location.

When 1,000 entries have been received, Allstate awards that particular YWCA $10,000 for domestic abuse services. Thankfully, Ms. Singer said, Greenwich has already surpassed the 1,000-entry minimum and she hopes the other 34 YWCA facilities will be able follow suit, thereby providing $350,000 worth of domestic abuse services across the United States.

To wrap up its primary domestic violence events this month, the YWCA will also co-host a screening of the documentary Telling Amy’s Story with the Junior League of Greenwich on Tuesday, Oct. 22, hosted by Mariska Hargitay of NBC’s Law and Order, Special Victims Unit. The film, narrated by Detective Dierdri Fishel, a court-recognized expert on domestic violence, follows the timeline of the domestic violence homicide that took the life of Amy Homan-McGee.

By examining Ms. Homan-McGee’s experiences through interviews with her parents, coworkers, and law enforcement and court personnel, those in attendance will be able to better identify, understand and help combat domestic violence, Ms. Singer said, especially with the help of a post-film discussion. Telling Amy’s Story has the power to not only educate but to save lives, she said.

The concept behind screening the film is to not only build awareness about domestic violence but also to remind the public that they have a place right in town at the YWCA where they can get help if they are involved in a relationship that is about power and control, which are the key characteristics of an abusive relationship, Ms. Singer said. Domestic violence comes in all forms — physical, financial, psychological — but the sooner a person gets help for any of them, the less likely the person will end up in the position examined within the film. Telling Amy’s Story shows exactly what domestic violence can do, and “it really involves the whole community,” Ms. Singer said.

Telling Amy’s Story will be shown at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Bow Tie Cinema in Greenwich. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Those planning to attend may purchase them online at Ywcagreenwich.org by navigating to Events then Women’s Leadership Seminars.

For tickets by phone and additional information, contact Danielle LeBrando at 203-869-6501, ext. 161, or d [email protected] or visit Jlgreenwich.org. The post-screening discussion will be led by Suzanne Adam, director of YWCA Domestic Abuse Services, and Sgt. Brent Reeves, domestic violence investigations instructor and acting domestic violence liaison for the Greenwich Police Department.


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