Oct. 14, 2002 – The work of advocates spreading the word against domestic violence has become a year-'round job, but during October, which is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the message is repeated in as many ways as possible.
By mid-month, organizations on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix were preparing for their highest-visibility events — public marches to remember those who have died, who have been hurt and who live in fear because of violence in the home.
Recently, Iris Kern, executive director of the Safety Zone, spent some time with a team of artists cutting out foam rubber silhouettes representing some of the victims of domestic abuse. The silhouettes will be carried in a procession scheduled for Oct. 24 from the Cruz Bay tennis courts to the bandstand in Cruz Bay Park.
"I'm so excited," said Kern, who said she got the idea from the 7th International Conference on Family Violence, held recently in San Diego. St. John saw its first domestic violence march last year, and Kern said it was received with a "marvelous response" by the public.
This year, St. John and St. Croix both will hold "Take Back the Night" marches on Saturday. Both events are scheduled to start around 6 p.m. The St. Croix march is sponsored by the St. Croix Women's Coalition.
Meanwhile Family Resource Center on St. Thomas is getting ready for a march and candlelight ceremony on Tuesday beginning at 5 p.m. As is the case on St. John, the big event is surrounded other, smaller activities throughout the month. The ceremony will include a reading of the names of those who lost their lives to battering. Rhymer said the roll increased by four in the last year — including two small children beaten by adults and a man killed by his wife.
Last Thursday night, Family Resource Center's executive director, Michal Rhymer, led a workshop at Frederick Lutheran Church for clergy and female parishioners about the things they could do to help protect members of their congregations. Rhymer said the turnout was not as good as she would have liked, but pastors from more than half a dozen St. Thomas churches took part. The workshop was a prelude to last weekend's Domestic Violence Awareness Sabbath/Sunday, an appeal to houses of worship to raise awareness among worshippers.
On Tuesday afternoon, while domestic violence awareness advocates on St. Thomas set up public outreach tables at Emancipation Garden, Safety Zone members plan to meet with police for a domestic violence training session.
These events are in addition to year-'round radio and television show appearances, which advocates say have been effective in reaching out to people who might not be willing to play more public roles. "It's a Family Affair," "La Nueva Era" and the "Domestic Violence Awareness Talk Show" are aired on radio stations WSTA and WGOD.
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