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A mural along the wall of the Project Safe Thrift Store in Athens, Georgia on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 reads “Project Safe believes in safe homes and relationships for all” in Spanish and English. Project Safe is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working to end domestic violence, and 90 cents of every dollar spent at the thrift store goes towards supporting client services and programs. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach)

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to acknowledge the prevalence of domestic violence and ignite a call to action for change.  In Athens, local organizations such as the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention organization (RSVP) at the University of Georgia and Project Safe work year-round to end domestic violence. But this month, the organization is asking the Athens community to pay closer attention. 

 

Nationally, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at least once in their lives, according to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month was established in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to connect people and advocates and solve interpersonal violence.

“It’s important to raise awareness because relationship violence is hard to spot,” said Tayler Simon, RSVP education coordinator. “It’s really important to talk about power and control and how relationship violence isn’t just physical violence. It is emotional abuse, psychological abuse, isolating people.” 

RSVP provides education and outreach for UGA students who are survivors of interpersonal abuse. On Oct. 7, the group tabled at the Tate Student Center, and is encouraging students to wear purple — which represents a collective of people seeking justice against domestic violence — throughout October. 

On Oct. 22, RSVP will host “Your Boo Shouldn’t Scare You,” which will screen the first episode of  Netflix’s show, “You,” and feature a discussion about the unhealthy relationship dynamics within the series. On Oct. 28, the organization will conduct a One Love escalation workshop which facilitates discussions concerning relationship violence in young people. 

One Love was founded in honor of Yeardley Love, a student at the University of Virginia who was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend at the age of 22. The organization educates young people about healthy and unhealthy relationships and how to spot warning signs of abuse. 

The video — which shows the progression of an abusive relationship to the point of the woman being killed — and discussion will cover the red flags of a potentially-abusive relationship and the roles and responsibility of friends and witnesses of abuse, Simon said. 

From 2003 to 2018, at least 2,035 Georgia citizens lost their lives due to domestic violence, according to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence. Project Safe, a local nonprofit organization, provides crisis intervention, support, advocacy and education to end domestic violence in Athens-Clarke, Oconee, Oglethorpe and Madison counties. 

“We do this all year long,” Tangela Beard-Ferguson, associate director of Project Safe, said.

During the month of October, Project Safe hosted “Through an Open Window,” an art exhibition that compiled the work of domestic violence survivors at ARTini’s Art Lounge in downtown Athens.

To spread awareness about domestic violence beyond October, Ferguson recommends letting the people around you know that they have the resources and avenues of support. 

“Be a supportive, listening ear and remember that it’s really hard thing for anyone to go through,” Ferguson said. 

 

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