Yesterday was October 1, the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
As most of you are aware, I worked in Domestic Violence in Pennsylvania and Ohio for many years. Last night, here in Asheville, the local shelter HelpMate, held a vigil in Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville. A group of women who form a women’s choir, WomenSong, performed and it was music with a message, with good voices and good hearts behind them.
A survivor told her harrowing story and, though we got rained on throughout the event, it was a beautiful gathering that included a memorial to all the women and men in North Carolina who have died due to Domestic Violence in the past year. Amazingly, through the combined efforts of organizations like HelpMate and the YWCA, along with law enforcement, the mayor’s office, the county and city councils, and the D.A.’s office, not one of those died in Buncombe County.
I’ve been to many of these vigils and the difference from when we started that first shelter in the ’70’s was remarkable. There was a police presence, to protect the attendees, and a plethora of government officials, from the local and county levels, were there to show their personal and political support. A proclamation from the Mayor declaring October to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Asheville was read; among other things the proclamation gave her public support for the work to stop Domestic Violence in Buncombe County and Asheville.
I’m going to include some of the pictures I took last night. It was raining and was quite dark after the sun went down, but for those who have never attended an event like this, I wanted you to see what is going on here in Asheville. Some of these picture are of T-Shirts from the Clothesline Project, a National movement where survivors and families and friends of victims of Domestic Violence who were killed express themselves and the stories of lives that were lost by decorating and writing on shirts. Each shirt represents a life lost, or damaged by Domestic Violence.
I also introduced myself to HelpMate’s volunteer coordinator, and offered my services. I am looking forward to getting into the trenches of this fight, within the limit of my mobility and health.