Mt. Pleasant Mayor Steve Brimhall and Henry County Supervisors declared October Domestic Violence Awareness Month this week.
Representatives from the Domestic Violence Intervention Program spoke at the Mt. Pleasant City Council meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 10 and the Henry County Board of Supervisors meeting on Thursday, Oct. 11. During the meetings, Brimhall and County Supervisor Greg Moeller gave a proclamation declaring October Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“One in four women and one in six men is affected by domestic violence in their lifetime,” said Alta Medea-Peters, Director of Community Engagement for the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, at the city council meeting. “These are our neighbors, friends and loved ones and it is important we honor them and provide access to resources for them.”
The proclamation states that the City of Mt. Pleasant and Henry County must continue their commitment to respect and support victims of domestic violence to prevent future violence in the community. Through the proclamation, the council and county supervisors urged all citizens to work together to eliminate domestic violence, dating violence and stalking from their communities.
In Henry County, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program served 47 people in the past year. Based on the county’s population, however, those numbers are low. Kristie Doser, with the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, said they expect to be serving 75 people in Henry County, and that is only including the one in 19 domestic violence victims who are expected to report the abuse.
“We’re not reaching everyone we should be reaching,” Doser said during a supervisors meeting. Declaring October Domestic Violence Awareness Month helps get the word out to those unreached individuals who deserve the support of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, she said.
Allison Peterson, a Henry County advocate with the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, said she will meet people wherever they are comfortable to help them find safety, whether it is in an emergency room, the county courthouse, their child’s school, a grocery store or a back road.
Doser explained that people underestimate how incredibly dangerous it can be for victims of domestic violence to reach out to an advocate. “Their partners keep a tight thumb,” she said.
“People don’t understand what it means to have someone watching every move you make … watching the mileage on your car, monitoring your phone and determining who you can talk to,” Doser said.
That’s why the Domestic Violence Intervention Program tries to reach people before they ever need those services. Advocates work on prevention by talking to students in the high schools about what healthy relationships look like, Medea-Peters said.
The Domestic Violence Intervention Program recently received a federal award for their rural services, which will enable them to have one person serving each county. Right now, they have one person serving two to three counties each.
“The more accessible we are, the more we can come to people and the more people will reach out to us,” Doser said.
Advocates with the Domestic Violence Intervention Program will be present at Healthy Henry County Communities Healthy Halloween Walk on Sunday, Oct. 21 from 2 to 5 p.m. at East Lake Park.